ISLAMABAD-Higher Education Commission (HEC) is working out multiple initiatives to facilitate the students in pursuing online education due to the closure institutions across the country in the wake of COVID-19.

In an exclusive talk with APP, HEC Chairman Dr Tariq Banuri pointed out that it had signed an agreement with the mobile companies to facilitate the students with affordable mobile Internet packages, especially for those living in remote and far-flung areas.

He said additional agreements were being signed with telecom companies to ensure affordable Internet packages for students in case of initiating online education system.

Dr Banuri said an option was also under consideration under which the mobile devices will be provided to those students, who cannot purchase it, adding the universities have been directed to look into the matter.

The connectivity issues were being resolved step-by-step, especially in those areas where the issue like Internet and devices were reported, he added.

“Face-to-face teaching is halted at all educational institutions across the globe in the wake of Coronavirus,” he said and added the countries, with resources and capacity had opted for online education system.

He said that Pakistan ought to move towards online classes until circumstances become normal in line with the approach the developed countries had opted during the current situation. Corona had badly affected the education system not only in Pakistan but across the globe, he added.

He urged Pakistani students to go for practical experience, especially online system.

He said, “Future lies in online business as a distribution system and production system will emerge as major business. If we will not learn experience in these fields, then recovery will be difficult for us.”

“We have initiated work in two directions including online classes and secondly we have given a fresh call for research on Corona,” he added

The universities had been directed to start online classes so that the issues developed in this regard, could be resolved, he maintained.

He said that online education has specific problems including lack of online system, faculty training, connectivity, electricity and the Internet.

To tackle the challenges, HEC has prepared a plan consisting of eight steps under which quality and connectivity issues will be resolved accordingly, he added.

He said the online system will be launched in those universities where the quality will cross the threshold and they do not have connectivity issues.

HEC has asked the universities to be fully prepared for online classes till 1st of June as if the restrictions extended due to pandemic, then the online system could work, he added.

He said HEC has directed the universities not to start online classes until they did not certify that the contents were up-to-date.

“We had meetings with provinces, technical teams and vice-chancellors and discussed the challenges being faced and they will be resolved on priority,” he added.

He said a number of universities had assured HEC that they will complete their preparation regarding online classes till 1st of June and added HEC will fully support universities in launching the online classes.

HEC, he said, has sent the guidelines of the government, ministry of health and World Health Organization(WHO) to universities for implementation adding such directions had already been implemented in HEC regarding Corona pandemic.