ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Federal Minister for Education, Professional Training, National Heritage and Culture Shafqat Mahmood launched the COVID-19 Learning Losses Report on Wednesday which was conducted by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Agahi (ITA) with support from UNICEF.
The study aimed to assess the extent to which the constitutional right to education (Article 25-A) and Pakistan’s commitment to education SDG-4 has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It evaluated learning losses incurred due to school closures using the ASER assessment tool and identified the extent to which factors like parental education and wealth index of households and access to technology-enabled children to continue learning.
In his virtual address, the Federal Minister Shafqat Mahmood said that this study has drawn our attention towards serious educational issues and it will help us in our policymaking.
The minister has said, the learning poverty, which according to a World Bank study, is 75 percent in Pakistan is the real challenge for us and the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the situation.
However the Federal Education Ministry had started a dedicated TV channel ‘ TeleSchool’ just in 15 days of the first school closure and according to this ITA report, 32 percent children watching this channel is good initiation.
The minister went on saying that the ministry in collaboration with AIOU is working on content development and to create a hybrid learning environment, we are introducing education technology in the sector and hiring Ed Tech specialists in the ministry. This will help to improve the learning levels of rural areas schools and low-income educational institutions.
The minister has said, by merging different organizations I.e. AEPAM & NEAS under the ministry we are establishing the Pakistan Institute of Education (PIE) which will be state of the art think tank for data gathering, research, and assessment mechanism at the national level.
With the support of World Bank US$ 250 million, the Federal Education Ministry along with the provinces will be launching a project for disadvantaged districts to upgrade their infrastructure, to focus on out-of-school children, and to reduce learning poverty, he added.
During the pandemic, to conduct the exams was an uphill task but due to collective decision making through IPEMC we successfully tackle the issue, the Minister underscored. If we didn’t conduct the examinations, the issue of learning losses might worsen in higher classes as well, he remarked.
Shafqat Mahmood said, in the next IPEMC, introducing remedial courses to cover the learning losses will also be discussed.
The education minister also highlighted the teachers training program, the Waseela-e-Taleem programme, and enhancement the internet connectivity throughout the Country by the government.
The minister thanked the ITA and ASER to conduct this useful study and assured that, the ministry will closely examine the report and its findings will be incorporated in policymaking by the ministry.