Higher Education Commission (HEC) is the regulatory body for all the private and public sector universities of Pakistan. A conference by HEC was conducted last month in which all the universities were advised to conduct online classes and develop their own Learning Management System (LMS). This will help the students in better facilitation with continuing all the educational activities in the country. In contrary to that, universities are facing a lot of issues in managing online classes. In response to that, HEC is working on several plans which will facilitate the institutes in carrying out all the activities through online platforms.
A report required by HEC from various universities suggested that most of the students remained absent from their online classes. The universities said that most of the students either don’t have a smartphone or access to internet is highly compromised in rural areas. However, the internet connectivity has also become an issue even in some of the major urban centers of the country due to pressure exerted on its usage. HEC is looking forward to help the institutes in solving this issue. Chairman of HEC, Dr. Tariq Banuri said that HEC is in the process of signing agreements with leading telecom companies of the country. These agreements will help in solving the basic problems of the institutes including the access to internet and availability of smart phones.
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HEC has requested the universities to provide data of their students which needs to highlight the areas where internet access is an issue and more importantly, students who don’t have a smart phone. For better facilitation, HEC will provide smartphones with internet availability either within that phone or any other device so that online classes can be conducted. Few of the private sector institutes are conducting online classes successfully but there are higher numbers on the other side that have shut down their complete operations. Nevertheless, Chairman HEC has advised all the institutes to start conducting online classes from June 01, 2020.
Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) are further advised to shift all the academic activities online if the situation of COVID – 19 prolongs. HEC has communicated a strategy based on 8 steps to all the universities which will help in continuing the educational activities. Moreover, universities are encouraged, advised and instructed to develop or acquire Learning Management System (LMS) as it will further facilitate in shifting all the academic activities to online tools. In order to address the transformation towards online medium of instruction, HEC has initiated a Technical Support Committee (TSC) to serve the purpose of faculty and staff development.