ABBOTTABAD: This is with reference to Pervez Hoodbhoy’s article “Free laptops is not the answer. What is?” (April 30). I would like to point out some misconceptions regarding laptops that were present in the article.
First, according to the writer, “laptops are not silver bullets that can transform Pakistan’s education”. In my view, this concept is based on the assumption that laptops alone are not enough to impart education and good teachers are also needed for this purpose. Here, I would like to point to Dr Sugata Mitra’s project ‘Hole in the wall’, through which he proved that children with laptops have the capacity to grasp both simple and complex subjects on their own.
Second, Dr Hoodbhoy believes that our teachers lack the training to teach via computers. Here again, I will point to another experiment conducted by Dr Mitra, in which several British grandmothers and children — who had access to the internet — were involved. The result of the project showed that teaching via computers does not require qualified teachers; even grandmothers can help in this regard.
Third, Dr Hoodbhoy has pointed to the Annual Status of Education Report which states that Pakistani students are very poor in reading and writing, implying that they will not be able to benefit from laptops. I believe that the main problem with our education system is the emphasis on learning by rote. We need to make the system more interactive and interesting to remove this problem. Laptops give them the opportunity to explore the world and find their own creative ways of learning.
Having pointed out my differences with the writer, I do agree with his views regarding the use of taxpayers’ money on laptops, instead of spending it on improving the education system and infrastructure. But I do believe that laptops and computers are extremely useful in imparting education, so criticising them is uncalled for.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2012.