Let’s Talk Education breaks down how the Sindh Education Sector Plan provides quality education and teacher-training and how they have managed online classes during the pandemic.
In the 7th episode of Let’s Talk Education, Dr. Fouzia Khan explained how the Sindh Education Sector Plan, 2019-2024 aims to improve the quality of teacher-training in the province. Moreover, the episode also discussed at length how the initiative should go a long way in improving the overall standard of education and how it can ensure that all girls who belong to the province of Sindh, have access to schools.
Moderator Hisham Khan interviewed Dr. Khan, who is chief advisor of Sindh’s School Education & Literacy Department. He inquired about the department’s programme during the interview and explored plans that aim to assist students in a manner where they are able to access educational institutions and high quality education. This podcast is available in two different parts on YouTube. The first part explains the main features of the plan while the second part talks about how Sindh has dealt with online education during the pandemic.
Dr. Khan, while explaining the programme, said, “In this new plan, gender inclusivity is our main priority. We have made access a new priority in a way that it allows us to allocate our energies towards implementing our plan.”
She further explained that to ensure good results her department is doing what it can to keep on board local bodies and other stakeholders such as the UNICEF and the World Bank. Through the local bodies it is expected that the department will be able to implement many of their policies without hassle. The budget for the development sector is Rs. 2 billion, which the chief advisor notes is limited.
During the podcast she also explained that despite the extensive plan, the Coronavirus pandemic brought fresh challenges in a whole new way. Currently, around 6 million children are out of school in Sindh due to prolonged school closures. Explaining the challenge following the emergence of COVID19 Dr. Khan said, “When the pandemic forced us to close schools around March 2020, we consulted the Education Board to devise an effective strategy. We discussed how lack of clean water would make it impossible for the students to follow the SoPs and why reopening of schools in the given circumstances was not immediately possible. However, initiative to provide online education turned out to be a game changer and a blessing in disguise.”
She also elaborated on her department’s collaboration with the Microsoft Word and how it has helped in the promotion of education in the province despite the pandemic. While recalling the early days of the pandemic she said, “We had been working on our online education tools for 2 years now. But when the pandemic happened, we had to implement it after approval from the Education Board and Microsoft. It was truly a blessing in disguise!”
She was all praise for Whatsapp as well as the app Sabaq Views allowed children to learn from their homes. With laptops or mobile phones, parents were able to monitor their child’s learning as well as progress relating to assignments. The lessons were provided in English, Urdu and Sindhi, so children of all backgrounds could learn. Around 25,000 teachers have been now trained to teach their students online as well, while at least seven lakh children are now getting educated online.
Dr. Khan while talking about the challenges also explained that enrolling female students for online classes was extremely difficult as they did not have access to the required tools. She went to explain that since girls lacked access to key devices, she plans to seek attention of partners to resolve the issue.