ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is the least ready country in terms of the provision of digital education, according to an assessment carried out under the ADB Digital Education Readiness Framework, which evaluated delivery of education via digital technology among 10 countries of the region.

It said while federal and provincial governments play a critical role in enabling teachers and students to leverage the strengths of digital education through the provision of supporting infrastructure and policies, they may not be able to achieve digital readiness alone, owing to the potential need for subject matter expertise, technical know-how, and added resources, which can be facilitated through the private sector and multilateral partnerships.

According to the survey results, there was an absence of teacher training in information and communication technology (ICT) skills with a focus on delivering online education.

While most teachers confirmed they also create educational content themselves, the format of the content was largely basic, covering documents and presentations, said the report ‘Towards Mature Digital Education Ecosystems’.

Teachers lack ICT skills training, finds ADB report

In terms of internet quality, the assessment showed teachers in schools were able to use the internet for most functions including browsing videos, consuming audio and video content, and downloading documents. The internet, however, is less suitable for downloading heavier content, including audio clips and videos.

Less than 30 per cent of teachers at primary, secondary school and higher education levels in Pakistan conduct classes using private EdTech platforms. Similarly, the use of these platforms for communicating and/or sharing with students was very low, with none of the teachers in the primary and secondary schools reportedly using them.

Among all 10 ADB member countries, Pakistan has one of the lowest shares of ICT graduates from the total pool of tertiary education graduates (1.1pc).

Pakistan is a partner state to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), and according to the GPE report on progress on grant usage by Sindh and Balochistan from October 2020, the former used tech tools to ensure teachers were deployed to the areas where they were most needed.

While in Balochistan, apps kept track of teacher attendance, recording when teachers are within a certain geo-radius of the school; they work offline in more remote areas, uploading information when there is network access. It also noted that the grant money was leading to an ambitious distance learning scheme being rolled out across Pakistan.

Pakistan’s major areas for improvement include its low internet connectivity (34.1pc of households are connected), low fixed broadband speeds, high fixed line broadband costs, and low rural electricity access. Although country’s household TV coverage rate is at 62.8pc, it surpasses all countries in its cable TV subscriptions coverage (with over 482 subscriptions per 1,000 persons).

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2023

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