Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday launched the Tele School Television channel with curiously little fanfare. The channel will feature educational programming for school-going children, specifically from grades one through 12. While the channel aims to provide education to children during the lockdown, it is beyond the lockdown that the project has its greatest potential. Given the abysmal state of education in the country, such a project could be a game-changer as it can vastly increase accessibility and, hopefully, improve standards. While it is true that under normal circumstances, learning from a television or phone screen is no replacement for a traditional classroom, we must keep in mind that in many rural schools, we have children from poorly-educated backgrounds going to poorly-funded schools with poorly-educated teachers. Under such circumstances, their potential education can be nothing but poor.
If done right, a widespread e-learning programme could provide children with the kind of teaching that can actually do them right and encourage them and their families to let them study, rather than dropping out before even completing middle school, like the vast majority in the country. Incidentally, the Prime Minister also made this point quite eloquently by also bringing up the wealth divide. The PM and his party promised many things in Naya Pakistan. This was not one of them. But if done right, it could do more for the country than any of his election promises. All they need to do is streamline and keep steadily improving the system to build it into something that can truly educate people beyond our infamous ‘can read and write own name’ definition. If that is the case, one day, the great coronavirus pandemic of 2020 may be remembered less for the human and economic misery it inflicted, but more for the nation-building ingenuity, it inspired.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2020.
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