Education plays a vital role in the socio- political and economic progress of a nation. Parents and governments in Pakistan have long faced daunting challenges in provision of quality and affordable education.
Some of the problems include limited budgetary allocations, low enrollment rate, high dropout rates, and difficulty in provision of infrastructural facilities to far-flung areas. In rural areas, good quality schools and colleges are scanty, ghost schools are aplenty, and faculty lacks the skills for proper instruction.
But with technology, far-flung areas can be provided with modern educational infrastructure. The need of the hour is to find imaginative ways to apply technology to specific challenges across the education value-chain. One solution is to introduce digital textbooks in Pakistani schools.
Institutes all around the world are moving towards providing their students with PCs and hand-held gadgets.
This has helped them overcome the costly problem of updating their text-books time and again. The gadgets can be used by teachers for marking attendance, lecture delivery, and conducting quizzes. The students can benefit from them by accessing digital books and online learning material along with submitting their homework, quizzes and assignments. Such an ecosystem would also familiarise our students with the uses of technology for seeking knowledge, making them tech-savvy at an early age. Some students are also deprived of internet and technological devices at home.
Therefore, if the schools can provide them with such facilities on campus, that can help bridge the digital divide from the outset. The latest advancements in electronic devices have made them quite affordable. Hence, institutions can devote the budget allocated to the textbooks’ up-gradation toward the provision of hand-held gadgets to their students. This also offers a way out from carrying heavy school-bags that act as a deterrent for school-going children. A research conducted by the US National Institute of Health in 2006 discovered that 37 percent of children aging 11-14 reported suffering from back-ache due to carrying a heavy bag.
Additionally, this would also ease up the pressure on our forests as fewer trees would be cut to make paper for textbooks. But the challenge remains that most of the school teachers in Pakistan are not tech-savvy, let alone the students. Vigorous training sessions would be needed to train the faculty on the usage of such gadgets as only then they would be able to impart those skills in their students.
Hence, it would be a matter of time before this idea can get popular in Pakistan. Another major hurdle, in this regard, is the power shortfall in our country, because online gadgets, despite being wireless, depend on some power to work.
The good news is the advent of 3G and 4G, which offer a great opportunity for students in rural areas. As the latest mobile communication standards allow mobile phones, computers and other portable electronic devices to access the internet wirelessly, students will have more and more opportunities to go online and seek complementary
education solutions, such as free online video tutorials.
This presents a great opportunity for the introduction of e-learning and blended learning in Pakistan. E-learning is the use of electronic media, information and communication technologies (ICT) in education. Whereas, blended learning
is a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content alongside textbooks. While still attending a “brick-and-mortar” school structure, face-to-face classroom methods are combined
with computer-mediated activities.
Such advancements in the field of education pose to clean-sweep conventional education methods. These concepts
are gaining immense popularity worldwide and have made access to acquiring specialized knowledge a piece of cake.
Vocational education training is another area where e-learning can also be made use of. These institutes all around the world are giving specialization trainings to farmers to increase their crop yields via audio-visual lectures.
Therefore, to enhance Pakistan’s global competitiveness in agriculture and textile sectors, it is pivotal that the farmers be provided with technical education and vocational training services using the same methods. Then, growing broadband connectivity can also boost self-learning.
As per the 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning in US higher education, conducted by Babson Survey Research Group, enrollments in online courses increased by 21 percent during the year, whilst on campus enrollments increased by 2 percent. This meant an increase of over one million students in online courses. Over 5.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in 2010. These statistics suggest that e-learning is the future of education and leave no doubt about the potential of such initiatives taken at home.
Our philanthropic organisation, Sabaq Foundation, has taken a step in that direction via its website www.sabaq.pk. The website is an online education portal through which students may gain access to free video tutorials at home. Sabaq’s website has so far covered O-level Math,and Chemistry. Matric syllabus for Math, Physics, Chemistry and Biology is also available along with problem solving question. Nowadays, video tutorials of 1st year and 2nd year are being made.
Due to pent-up demand for such portals, the website has over 4 million video lectures have been delivered to 5 hundred thousand students. Had the same number of students opted for after-school tuitions costing around Rs. 2000 per month to each student (a conservative estimate), it would have cost their parents Rs. 700 million.
Such blended learning platforms offer an alternative to seeking after-school tuitions as students can gain access to
top-quality video tutorials right at their homes. Moreover, students who are facing difficulty understanding the concepts at school need not worry anymore. Girls who cannot go to tuition centres after school can greatly benefit
from this platform.
However, pilot projects for e-learning can only be successful in Pakistan once the students are well-acquainted
with the use of technology. With the knowledge-based economies making waves on the road to economic progress, it has become extremely important for Pakistan to acquaint its students and teachers with the latest technological developments in the field of education. Only then can our country make a leap forward in terms of economic progress.
Education, the birth right of every human being unfortunately is going out of the reach of a common man. Nobody can deny this harsh reality that education has become a business today just like any other business. This is not only a problem for Pakistan. Institutes and organizations all around the world are trying hard to overcome the educational crisis.
However, Pakistan is facing this problem to a much greater extent. First of all, quality education is way too expensive for lower class. Even the people belonging from the middle class have to cut out their belly to be able to afford higher education.
Most of the educational institutes are simply there to exploit the students. After-school academies, tuition centres and home tutors make the top of the list. It is for this reason that we see tuition centres budding up in every other street.
After-school academies claim to be filling in the gap created by our schools and colleges. Although such academies hail themselves as the hallmark of quality education, but their very presence is a living proof of our education system’s failure. Ideally, there should be no such thing as after-school academies as it is the duty of our schools and colleges to ensure the provision of quality education. Had they been doing their job effectively, there would have been no need for after-school academies at all.
Secondly, the very presence of such academies served as an attraction for teachers. The alternative form of earning from such academies lures them for keeping some gaps in their lectures at schools. Hence they treat their students as a bait for after-schools academies.
That is why most of the students report their teachers asking them to attend evening academies to “clear up any confusion regarding the concepts delivered in the school lectures”. What is even more hilarious is that some of the teachers do not even prefer teaching in schools. They would simply attend after-schools academies as they can make much more money through them.
So why would any teacher pay attention to school lectures when they can earn much more money through those academies? Why would they teach effectively at schools?
Hence, there is an emergency to eliminate this viscous cycle of students’ exploitation. Teachers’ salaries especially in the public sector need to be raised to the market level to stop them from going for “other means of income” through after-schools academies.
The government should also take a step to cut down this rapid growth of after-schools academies. Our educational institutes need to be checked and monitored strictly. The government needs to ensure the provision of free and quality education as only then the schools and colleges can be relied upon and the exploitation through academies be curbed.
The dismal situation of education in Pakistan has always been crying out loud for help. Hence, it seemed very necessary for a non profit organisation to initiate a project to ensure the availability of quality education for Pakistani students.
It is therefore, that we created a website http://sabaq.pk/ with free video lectures for Pakistani students. We welcome the students, teachers, parents, organizations as well as educationists to join their hands in our noble cause. We firmly believe that no Pakistani should be left out from their birth right of education. Thus, our aim is to enable every Pakistani to get access to premium quality education for free which can only be possible if other like minded groups also join our cause.
We have been listening from a lot of students of Pakistan that they do not even have access to books in their schools. Unfortunately this is not just the case in rural or far flung areas. Many students from the so called ‘developed’ areas of KPK and Balochistan are also sending us emails telling that they do not have any books to study from.
It is therefore that we initiated our project of developing an online video tutorial bank. A website that provides free video lectures along with solutions to difficult questions.
At first, we began with making Math videos for Matric students. But the overwhelming applaud and the continuous insistence of students, parents as well as the teachers lead us to developing video lectures for Physics, Chemistry and Biology as well. Later on we added O Level Math and Physics videos as well.
Nowadays we are working on developing video lectures solving difficult questions from students textbooks. Solutions to Math Questions have been already uploaded. The rest are in the pipeline.
Hence, til now, complete Matric syllabus for Math, Physics, Chemistry and Biology for all Pakistani boards have been uploaded. Videos for concept lectures and problem solutions have been provided. Moreover, videos covering complete syllabus of Cambridge University O Level Math and Physics are on our website http://sabaq.pk/.
Our stats show that over 2 million video lectures have been delivered to 350,000 students so far. If the same number of students opt for after-school tuition costing around Rs. 2,000 per month to each student (a conservative estimate), it would cost their parents Rs. 700 million (350,000* 2,000 =700 m).
All this cost can be saved if the students watch our video tutorials. Our videos serve a perfect alternative of student’s textbooks. The lectures are planned, mapped and sequenced exactly according tot he respective book Boards. Hence, we rightly claim to provide ‘free textbooks’ online via our website http://sabaq.pk/.
Thanks to our dedicated teachers, our world-class online video tutorials explain all the concepts in detail. The tremendous feedback of all the students, parents and teachers is a living proof of that.We eventually aim to be a complete online video tutorial library by covering all the syllabus of grade 5 through 12.
E-learning is the hottest topic of discussion amongst all educationists worldwide. But unfortunately, the concept still needs to be made popular in the developing countries especially in Asia and Africa. Sabaq Foundation’s website (http://sabaq.pk/) happens to be amongst the first and foremost of its kind serving as a pioneer of e-learning in Pakistan. The aim of our noble cause is to facilitate the students, parents as well as the teachers to gain knowledge through our online video tutorials.
What makes our videos so special?
We have equipped our teachers with the state of the art equipment. All the video making softwares and tablets are specially used for. Hence, a lot of effort is put to ensure that our video tutorials compete international standards.
The videos comprise of two types: concept development and problem solution. Every video lecture needs to be conceptual, concise and yet content rich. Our tutorials are made using legible, fully-labeled, and colorful diagrams and fonts. are incorporated for our Physics, Chemistry, Math and Biology videos.
The video making process goes through multiple levels of evaluation i.e. self-review, peer-review and then a final review and any video which does not come up to the standards is rejected. Moreover, we also take great care not to violate any copyright issues in our videos. We give full credits to the any sources used in our video tutorials.
The videos are made in Urdu which makes them comprehensible to Pakistani students from all over the world. Separate videos are made following the complete syllabus of textbooks of the five Pakistani boards i.e. Federal, Punjab, Sindh, KPK and Balochistan. The videos are sequenced and named exactly according to the respective textbook’s syllabus. This makes it fairly easy for the students to find the topics that their textbooks fail to clarify.
The best thing about Sabaq Foundation’s videos is the nitty gritty explanation of all the concepts. Our faculty literally dissects every concept and makes sure that the students get to know of its origination and historical background. They make sure that each concept is explained thoroughly. To ensure this, a number of academic books including Cambridge, Oxford and local boards are consulted. The internet is also consulted in case the faculty needs further elaboration of a concept. Hence, we try our level best to make sure the students understand the concepts fully and completely.
This is how Sabaq Foundation is making a leap forward in creating awareness and popularizing e-learning. People from all over the world can access our online video tutorials 24/7. Our statistical analysis shows that students from countries like United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, (Middle Eastern countries like) Saudi Arabia, Qatar login to our website. This clearly indicates that even overseas Pakistani students find our tutorials very useful which truly is a medal of honor for us.