AJK president stresses need for online education during coronavirus lockdown

We will have to adopt technology-based alternative means to save time and academic year of students, says Masood


​ Our Correspondent April 15, 2020
We will have to adopt technology-based alternative means to save time and academic year of students, says Masood PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan has directed all public sector universities of AJK to prepare distance-learning programme for restoration of academic activities disrupted due to coronavirus outbreak.

Talking to vice-chancellors of the public sector universities through video link from the Aiwan-e-Sadr in Muzaffarabad on Wednesday, the AJK president, who is also the chancellor of the five public sector universities, said that we would have to adopt virtual and technology-based alternative means to save the precious time and the academic year of students if the lockdown prolongs.

The vice-chancellors apprised President Masood that they had already started preparations in this regard, and in light of the directives and guidelines of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), the process of training of academic staff on conducting online classes, delivering lectures, giving assignments to students and the strategy for examinations has already been afoot.

Azad Jammu and Kashmir University Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Kalim Abbasi said that if the situation improves, the ongoing holidays would be converted into summer vacation, and the academic activities will be restored from June 1.

“The curricular activities would be continued on Saturdays also, but if the lockdown prolongs, necessary steps would be taken in accordance with the situation keeping in view the needs of the students.”

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Dr Abbasi also said that a five-member committee headed by Dean Faculty of Sciences has already contacted the technical support committee of the HEC, and is working on the methodology of holding online classes and to prepare learning material for the next semester. The commission has already given approval for providing financial resources to immediately provide the required facilities at King Abdullah Campus of the university.

Professor Dr Rasool Jan, vice-chancellor of the University of Poonch-Rawalakot, said that all departments of his institution has set up their respective WhatsApp groups, and are busy in preparing courses for the virtual classes.

“As soon as the technology-based educational preparations are completed, the university will immediately start the online classes.”

University of Kotli Vice-Chancellor Prof. Dr Syed Dilnawaz Gardezi said that his university had got Learning Management System (LMS) from the Virtual University of Pakistan, and now with the cooperation of directorate of information technology, the training of teachers in imparting online education has been started, and “if the lockdown is extended beyond May 31, the education system will be restored through Google classroom, Skype, WhatsApp and other means.”

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Dr Maqsood Ahmed, vice-chancellor Mirpur University of Science and Technology, said that the process of training of heads of departments and the faculty members for online education may be started within two weeks. “The Campus Management System (CMS) already being used by the university that can be successfully used to distribute learning material and getting assignments from the students.”

The Women University Bagh had conducted mid-term examinations in the last week of February, and 70% course has already been completed while the remaining course can be completed in three to four weeks. “For this purpose, efforts are underway to restore the education system through online classes preferably through the Google classroom and other digital means.”

All the vice-chancellors expressed concern over inadequate internet facilities particularly in far-flung areas, which may become a hurdle in online education. However, efforts to address the internet issue are underway.

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