The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis. Many countries have (rightly) decided to close schools, colleges and universities. Teaching is moving online, on an untested and unprecedented scale. Many assessments have simply been cancelled. Clearly, these barriers will not only be a short-term problem but can also have long-term consequences for affected students. Inequality is likely to increase among students. The closure of schools, colleges and universities interrupts the teaching for students all over the world.

Importantly, the lockdown of institutions not only affects internal assessments. In the UK, for example, all exams for the main public qualifications have been cancelled for the entire cohort. Depending on the duration of the lockdown, we will likely observe similar actions around the world and also in Pakistan. But it is also possible that some students’ careers might benefit from the interruptions. For example, in Norway, it has been decided that all 10th-grade students will be awarded a high-school degree.

In higher education, many universities and colleges are replacing traditional exams with online assessment tools This is a new area for both teachers and students, and assessments likely have larger measurement error than usual. The careers of this year’s university graduates may be severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. They are experiencing major interruptions in their assessments.

As a solution, public-private educational partnerships could grow in importance. In developing countries like Pakistan, to compensate for the loss of students it can be a fruitful trend in future education and it can benefit educational reforms in the future. The benefit of this will be that the joint strategy of the government and private educational institutions will prove to be in favour of the students in the future. In addition, the cost of accessing online education needs to be reduced in areas where online education is being provided using technology tools like Microsoft team, Zoom, Google Classroom, WhatsApp etc. The Education Commission needs to be in constant touch with the educational institutions to get the feedback. And the relevant authority should provide a platform where students can lodge complaints regarding online education so that they can be better reformed.

ZAIGHUM PASHA,

Islamabad.