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COVID-19: Driving the Future of Education:

The disruption caused to education systems across the world by COVID-19 has raised pertinent questions about the relationship between technology and pedagogy. As EdTech shifts into top gear to fill gaps in the current standstill, our panellists discuss whether Pakistan is even prepared for the transition. Optimism and scepticism abound, as the policies, stakeholders and purpose of this nascent sector are dissected at Tabadlab’s policy roundtable.

Featured Panelists:

Zainab Qureshi is the Director of the LEAPS Program at Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Vikas Pota is a globally respected leader and driving force behind the Global Teacher Prize as the head of the Varkey Foundation.

Dr. Farrah Arif is the founder and CEO of EDTechWorx and an EDUTECH Commonwealth scholar and a visionary entrepreneur.

Bilal Musharraf is the Vice President for Global Strategy and Business Development at Edmodo, a learning management system.

Salma Alam is the CEO of Durbeen, a teacher training firm focused on enabling government school teachers in Pakistan.

Discussion Summary:

Teacher training
Has the conversation in EdTech thus far focused sufficiently on keeping teachers at the centre of technological developments? How crucial is it to create solutions for frontline educators in order to avoid a disconnect between digital advancement and on-ground implementation?

Student engagement
How can we use EdTech to ensure interactive instead of didactic communication? Is its purpose to merely emulate the learning experience of a classroom or can we go beyond that and engage students in a more mentally and emotionally stimulating manner?

Multilateral partnerships
Our panellists shed light on how important it is for stakeholders across the education spectrum to join efforts and learn from one another. What are the platforms available for teachers to form a community with other teachers and students to link with other students? How can tripartite discussions between governments, EdTech firms and educators be encouraged?

Policy creation
How have countries around the world responded to advancements in education technology? What are some innovative solutions that can serve as models for Pakistan? Our speakers examine recent steps taken by the federal and provincial governments to provide distance learning during COVID-19.

Market vs. State
Should EdTech firms be allowed free rein to propose innovations and interventions until the market filters out the effective from the inadequate? Or should governments be regulating the sector at this nascent stage to provide direction and prevent a mismatch of demand and supply?

Understanding purpose
Is the EdTech sector currently plugging in technology for the sake of technology? How far have we understood the purpose of digitising education or the pain points for teachers and students? How can we address specific issues with precise solutions instead of reinventing the wheel?

Recommendations

• Understanding gaps and prescribing solutions accordingly
• Avoiding tech for the sake of tech
• Keeping teachers central to EdTech advancements
• Ensuring communication between all relevant stakeholders
• Adopting policy measures to regulate and standardise the process

Key Resources:

Zainab Qureshi (May 2020) – The Analytical Angle: Covid-19 and the looming education crisis

Zaffar Ahmed Shaikh (June 2013) – Higher Education in Pakistan: An ICT Integration Viewpoint

Sidra Khushnood (Jan 2020) – Transforming Science Education through Digital Technology

Adeela Arshad Ayaz(Concordia University) – Of Mice and Men: Educational Technology in Pakistan’s Public School System