Shafqat Mehmood launches Covid-19 Learning Losses Report by Idara e Taleem and UNICEF

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(Khalid Sibtain)

Islamabad: Federal Minister for Education, Professional Training, National Heritage and Culture Shafqat Mahmood launched Covid-19 Learning Losses Report, today which was conducted by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Agahi ( ITA) with support from UNICEF. The study aimed to assess the extent to which the constitutional right to education ( Article 25-A) and Pakistan’s commitment to education SDG-4 has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. It evaluated learning losses incurred due to school closures using the ASER assessment tool and identified the extent to which factors like parental education and wealth index of house holds and access to technology enabled children to continue learning.

Federal Minister Shafqat Mahmood in his virtual address said that this study has drawn our attention towards serious educational issues and it will help us in our policy making. The minister has said, the learning poverty, which according to World Bank study, is 75 percent in Pakistan is the real challenge for us and the Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the situation. However the federal education ministry had started a dedicated TV channel ‘ TeleSchool’ just in fifteen days of the first school closure and according to this ITA report 32 percent children watching this channel is good initiation. He went on saying, the ministry in collaboration with AIOU is working on content development and to create a hybrid learning environment, we are introducing education technology in the sector and hiring Ed Tech specialists in the ministry. This will help to improve learning levels of rural areas schools and low income educational institutions.

The minister has said, by merging different organizations I.e. AEPAM & NEAS under the ministry we are establishing Pakistan Institute of Education ( PIE) which will be state of the art think tank for data gathering, research and assessment mechanism at the national level. With the support of World Bank 250 million USD, the federal education ministry alongwith the provinces will be launching a project for disadvantaged districts to upgrade their infrastructure, to focus on out of school children and to reduce the learning poverty, he added.

During the pandemic, to conduct the exams was an uphill task but due to collective decision making through IPEMC we successfully tackle the issue, the Minister underscored. If we didnot conduct the examinations, the issue of learning losses might worsen in higher classes as well, he remarked. Shafqat Mahmood said, in next IPEMC, introducing remedial courses to cover the learning losses will also be discussed. The minister also highlighted the teachers training program, Waseela e Taleem programme and enhancing the internet connectivity through out the country by the government. Federal Minister Shafqat Mahmood thanked the ITA and ASER to conduct this useful study and assured that, the ministry will closely examine the report and its findings will be incorporated in policy making by the ministry.