Prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus, Pakistan’s education system had suffered from structural deficiencies and a learning crisis. However, unprecedented school closures have led to further efforts in the country to build productive human capital. The closure of schools in Pakistan has affected 55.3 million children between the ages of 5 and 16, in addition, 22.8 million children have been out of school. The pandemic has exacerbated the risks and vulnerabilities of an already weak education system.
In terms of learning quality, Pakistan ranks 134th in the Human Capital Index (HCI) of 157 countries. In addition, the quality of education in Pakistan is so poor that the expected school years (EYS) and the adjusted school years (LAYS) are about four years apart. For example, children in Pakistan are expected to complete 8.8 years of preschool, primary and secondary education before the age of 18. However, if the quality of learning is adjusted, it is only equivalent to 4.8 years: a 4-year learning gap. In addition, there is also a learning gap between boys and girls.
The reasons for poor performance may be factors at the school and family level. Currently, wealthy students are in comfortable homes, have good Internet connections, can hire tutors, and well-educated parents are more suitable for home schooling. Since poor students cannot obtain such facilities, the learning gap will widen. In addition, these children are also extremely vulnerable to dropping out of school.
In this study, our assessment confirmed that suspension of classes will greatly increase the dropout rate and erode learning, which in the long run will often adversely affect important learning outcomes. Taking into account the impact of Covid-19 on LAYS, in the case of suspension of classes within five months, this number dropped to 4.08 (a 14.64% decrease). In addition, today’s school students’ annual income loss is $234, and their lifetime income loss is approximately $2,349. At present, the total economic cost of these children is approximately US$129 billion. In addition, due to the dismissal of workers, nearly 15.5 million children are prone to drop out of school.
In terms of reducing lifetime income, the economic cost is huge. Therefore, the solution is to design an effective online learning strategy. For this reason, the success of an online learning strategy depends on the availability and equality of access to computers and Internet services. Therefore, in practice, it is necessary to assess what percentage of households in different regions can access these facilities in real time.
Similarly, online learning strategies can be supplemented by adopting effective distance learning strategies. In this regard, an appropriate virtual learning environment can help students and educators access a dedicated educational resource library. Educational broadcasting also needs to be strengthened to cover areas and households that cannot access the Internet.
For families whose families cannot afford any expenses, the income shocks suffered by families whose children are studying in private schools will increase their demand for public support, and the pressure on the public system, which is short of cash, will increase. Therefore, the government’s primary task should be to stimulate economic activity through effective social distancing SOPs.
Since last month, the school has (partially) reopened, but the situation is still developing. The threat of a second outbreak of the virus still exists. Therefore, to establish a flexible and future-oriented education system, the focus should be on strengthening our capabilities in the long run through consistent human capital policies and a sufficient budget for children’s education.
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Last Updated on 10/23/2020