Author: Progress Students Collective
The campaign around online classes has entered its fourth week now. Students in across the country have rejected these online classes on various grounds. We have raised these concerns on multiple social and administrative platforms – through social media, writing letters to each university administrations and explaining specific issues of that campus and by using mainstream media platforms.
The general response of authorities is the same as it always has been with the students. The statements by the minister of education response were vague, as if he does not understand how our higher education system and these online classes work. The Higher Education Commission was finally forced to listen to what we were saying for weeks. But when they finally paid attention, they began asking the same questions we were asking them!
Since there is confusion on part of the authorities over this issue, we are now clearly and firmly demanding suspension of these online classes. Some universities like QAU, BZU, UET, and a few others have rightfully suspended their online classes but many public and almost all private universities are showing immense stubbornness in this regard. The Punjab University is among the most diverse educational institutions in Pakistan, where many students in multiple departments have already boycotted these online classes, yet still its administration is showing callous indifference and sheer incompetence. The private education mafia is still as active as it was before and students are being forced to pay their fees under such an unprecedented situation.
As it is suspected that this crisis will be prolonged, we have modified our demands. Here are our demands from the government regarding these online classes:
●- Suspend Online Classes till May 31 in all universities and declare this time as semester break, and use this time to build Learning Management System that will be capable and efficient enough to reach out all students and that will address the concerns of both students and teachers regarding the multiple issues they are facing in conducting these classes
●- Provide Internet to all the areas where people do not have access to it. Provide free 3G/4G internet to all students so that they are able to attend their classes.
●-Reduce fee by 70 percent for the online classes and reimburse 70 percent of the amount of fee that the students have submitted already. Those institutions that are giving a choice to their students to take a semester break and continue their semester in next term, must also ensure that the next semester will be pursued by the fee already submitted of this semester, instead of charging them double fee of the same semester
●- Train teachers how to teach virtually according to the standards being followed globally before May 31, because without proper understanding and methods of imparting knowledge on online platforms, these classes are of no use
●- Workers of all these educational institutions must be fully paid during all these months as it is the responsibility of these institutions to ensure their social protection. We have been seeing that many of these institutions are firing their workers or simply denying them their wages, which is unacceptable and inhumane.
No one is denying the importance and inevitability of online education, especially under such circumstances, but without development of proper infrastructure and mechanisms of learning, these classes are will remain a hoax and will serve no purpose. The HEC and university administrations must seriously consider and analyse all aspects of online education and after ensuring that all issues and concerns have been addressed, we will welcome their decisions. But till then we are boycotting these online classes!