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Coronavirus Shuts Down Schools, But Not Learning in Pakistan

Over 290 million students are out of school due to the Coronavirus In Sindh, schools have been shutdown till t
Published March 4, 2020 Updated March 5, 2020
  • Over 290 million students are out of school due to the Coronavirus
  • In Sindh, schools have been shutdown till the 13th of March as the Government tackles Coronavirus
  • Sabaq and Cedar College find a way to take the classrooms to the students.
  • Google CEO rolls out free access to Google’s advanced Handout Video-Conferencing capabilities globally

The world has been engulfed in the global health emergency because of the Coronavirus. This has recently caused many governments around the world to shut down schools for a significant period of time.

In Sindh, schools have been shut down till the 13th of March as the Government tackles the outbreak of the virus after the first case was confirmed in Karachi.

Schools in Japan, in certain parts of U.S., France and in many other countries have also been shut down by the respective governments to contain the pandemic.

WHO recognizes Pakistan's swift handling of the Coronavirus

While the precautionary measures taken by Pakistan have been lauded by the World Health Organization as necessary, students in Pakistan cannot afford to be out-of-school for prolonged periods.

WHO representative in Pakistan Dr. Palitha Mahipala told reporters he was “impressed by the swift and diligent way the government has handled the crisis so far and WHO is committed to support them every step of the way.”

There are currently 22.6 million out-of-school children in Pakistan – a number larger than the entire population of Karachi. The latest Economic Survey of Pakistan 2019 report says that literacy rate of females and males in Sindh has decreased from 63.0% to 62.2% which highlights the importance of primary school students staying in school.

Educationists find a way to take education to the students

With attempts to control the outbreak necessary at the time, educators in Pakistan have found alternate methods to making sure the learning does not stop amid Coronavirus fears.

One such platform has been developed by Sabaq,  a multi-award winning EdTech company on a mission to help children in Pakistan to pursue primary education.

Muse, SABAQ’s flagship product, is a K-5, digital learning application that improves student engagement and learning outcomes for Math, Science, English, and Urdu. It is designed to be engaging and interactive, includes animated video lessons, interactive and gamified assessments, and story-based instructional content. The application offers curriculum in Urdu, Sindhi and English.

When asked about Muse’s resourcefulness during the current school closure, Ms. Maha Adil, an Assessment Associate at Sabaq highlighted the app’s reach and importance.

“Back in my school days when institutions were forced to shut down, we didn’t have accessible resources readily available to fall back on, to continue learning. That isn’t the case anymore. Currently, Muse is being used by over a thousand schools across Pakistan where over 120,000 kids use Muse to improve learning outcomes.”

The numbers are set to grow with schools being shutdown in Sindh as the app makes the national curriculum available for free to all on the Play Store. The app can also be accessed by clicking here.

Another such method has been opted by one of the top private schools in Karachi, Cedar College, where virtual classrooms have been set up by educators in a bid to not waste crucial time before the Cambridge A’level Examinations.

Cedar’s administration went a step further in offering assistance to any other institution in setting up a virtual classroom.

“We understand that many institutions and private teachers are still trying to figure out a strategy to tackle this problem. We would like to offer our assistance to anyone who would like to set up virtual classroom(s) for their students so that they can continue to teach. Regardless of institution, we all need to focus on ensuring that our students’ academic progress is not impacted by this unfortunate and unforeseen situation - the students and their academic and physical well-being must come first”, wrote the school’s official page on Facebook.

"Okay Google, Take Me To Class"

Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that in a bid to help bridge the gap between educators and students, Google would roll-out free access to Google’s advanced Handout Video-Conferencing capabilities.

“We want to help businesses and schools impacted by COVID-19 stay connected: starting this week, we'll roll out free access to our advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities through July 1, 2020 to all G Suite customers globally”, Pichai wrote on Twitter.

While the worst is over in China according to the comprehensive data trends of the Coronavirus, the outbreak has not been contained globally yet and the death toll has risen to over 3,000 from approximately 92,000 confirmed cases. Ed-Tech will need to come forth to facilitate education in virus-struck regions.

The priority is to contain the pandemic so schools, factories and all affected spaces can be operational once again, but until then, technology is our knight in shining armour.


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