Need for comprehensive educational policy

Riaz Khan Yousafzai

After the arrival of Corona pandemic to Pakistan, the government decided to impose lockdown in the country to get rid of this disease, however, due to the closure of universities and other institutes, the students are very much worried about their future as the government and the concerned authorities don’t have any special mechanism or arrangement for continuing the current academic year in a smooth and effective away in the present situation.

In order to address this issue, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has advised the universities and higher education institutes to adopt the online education as in the current situation conventional learning is not possible, but that decision seems failed as most of the areas of the country, especially the former FATA and Balochistan etc. don’t have access to internet, whereas a large number of the students also don’t have smartphones and laptops etc. so how they would take online classes at home in this problematic situation?

Similarly, most of the teachers also don’t have any experience in online teaching, while the current internet packages are also unaffordable for the majority of students. Furthermore, the universities have also asked the students to submit the semester fee, despite the fact that the financial position of the majority of parents is not good even to meet the basic expenses.

To discuss the above problems being faced by the students and demand for their speedy and effective solution from the authorities, Jamiat Talaba e Islam (JTI) arranged the All Students Organizations Conference (ASOC) on Saturday, 20th June in Peshawar, which was attended by the central and provincial leaderships and office bearers of different students associations and federations, including Islami Jamiat Talaba, Ahlehadees Students Federation, Watan Pal Students Federation, Muslim Students Federation (Q), FATA Students Federation, Imamia Students Organization, Pakhtun Students Federation and Peoples Students Federation.

During the conference, the participants strongly rejected the current federal budget and demanded the government that 4% of the budget should be allocated for education and during the prevailing situation a special educational package must be granted to universities to take them out of financial crisis, adding that the fee of university students should be waved off due to the poor financial status of the majority of parents amid the Corona epidemic.

They further demanded that the students unions should be restored by doing all the necessary arrangements for the unions elections in all the educational institutes on immediate basis, adding that universities should be opened under SOPs as online classes were not possible for the majority of students and if the opening of campuses was not possible then affordable internet should be provided to the students, especially the students of ex-Fata and other underdeveloped areas.

At the end, the participants unanimously passed a resolution and asked the government to implement it in letter and spirit as it is a matter of great concern. I think, it is a very good step in the interest of the students and the government must pay due attention to it, however, the government should also initiate working on establishing a comprehensive educational policy on priority and immediate basis to address all the problems of the students in this critical situation, otherwise, we would lose one of our most big strengths by endangering and effecting the education of our young generation.

The writer is a Ph.D scholar at the University of Peshawar and General Secretary of the Peoples Students Federation (PSF) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter.

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