University students demand end to ‘faulty’ online classes
Islamabad (TP) June 23, 2020: A large number of protesting students have demanded to do away with the online classes, being run by public sector universities, replacing it with an alternative mode of education, which should cater to the needs of all and sundry.
The students, who gathered under the banner of Progressive Students Federation, Baloch Students Alliance and Revolutionary Students Federation outside the National Press Club Islamabad, said that after the long closure caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, universities have formally started online classes but a large number of the students especially those living in far-flung areas have been facing problems in taking online classes owing to slow and poor internet service.
The students belonging to the PRSF, BSA and RSF demanded an immediate suspension of the online classes and examination and pooling out the funds for putting in place a digital infrastructure for a new education system. They said that until a viable solution is arranged keeping in view the issues being faced by the students, they should be promoted to next semester without examination.
They said that after the refusal by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to promote the students without examination, universities started online classes from June 1, however, the HEC, being the regulatory body, has failed to push the institutions to comply with the SOPs and guidelines issued for the online classes.
PrSF Islamabad-Rawalpindi chapter President Aunil Muntazir urged the need for an alternative mode of education during the Covid-19 pandemic, which, he said, has severely impacted the daily routine and studies of the students.
“Our state infrastructure exclusively benefits the people belonging to the well-to-do economic background while neglecting the students hailing from marginalized segments of our society,” he said demanding that the HEC rolled back its policy of enforcing online classes, as online infrastructure was almost non-existent in far-flung and remote areas including in Balochistan, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
BSA member Beebagr Baloch highlighted the historical step-motherly treatment of the state towards the Baloch. “During the decade-long era of oppression, the state has paralysed the whole provincial infrastructure in Balochistan. The education sector is already in a shambles in Balochistan and now the university students are facing another challenge in the name of online classes,” he said demanding that the government immediately suspended the online classes until the internet and tech gadgets were provided to all the students unconditionally.
RSF member Asif Rasheed said that students living along with the Line of Control in Kashmir were facing immense issues due to the non-availability of internet. The students have to travel for miles to find a stable internet connection, he said adding that the federal government and the HEC have turned deaf to their issues. He demanded that the HEC must take students on board while making critical decisions concerning their future.
It should be mentioned here that the Higher Education Commission has allowed universities and degree-awarding institutions to continue teaching for the Spring Semester 2020 by using a variety of distance learning approaches including the internet, one-way or two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, broadband lines, fibre optics, satellite, or wireless communication devices, audio-conferencing, or sharing of CDs for students having no direct internet facility.
The students of tribal areas, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir have consistently been protesting in different cities against the poor internet service.