IN A country where education has always been kept on the back burner, Pakistan, unluckily has suffered enormously where governments have ignored and failed to recognize the importance on how education can transform people. According to January 2012 estimates, the literacy rate in Pakistan is close to 49 per cent which includes a major chunk of people who can only read and write their names. While other developing countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal have witnessed marked improvements in digital demographics by emphasizing the need of quality education, Pakistan still has to tackle with issues like ghost schools, untrained teachers and misuse of private funds, to name a few. While most of the private funds from organizations like USAID and other international organizations being misused, few private companies have taken upon themselves to improve the standard of education in Pakistan.
One such company is Viper technologies which has introduced innovative hardware and software to move away from the chalk and blackboard culture, typically prevalent in the local education system. In collaboration with processor giant Intel, Viper has been trying hard to change the classroom landscape, forever. Khushnood Aftab, the man and brain behind Viper has stories to tell. He believes there is enormous talent available in Pakistan which sadly remains untapped. Making sure he goes where no one has ever gone before, Khushnood has a beaming smile on his face when he tells that he, along with his education imparting digital equipment has gone to the remotest areas of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa province, places where even the local postal system is afraid to go. Surprising as it may sound, Aftab proudly claims that students in the KPK province of Pakistan have an unending desire to learn. In a province which is highly prone to terrorism and violence, Aftab has seen computer wizards working on high-end servers, which at times, are even difficult for computer professions to get through.
In one of Vipers recent digital initiatives, the company has introduced Pakistan first Classroom on Wheels or CoW as it fondly called. Borrowing the concept from developed nations, CoW is actually a mobile cabinet which stores laptops for kids, which also has an inbuilt Wi-Fi network and the much-needed uninterrupted power supply system. Being versatile, CoW is a cost-effective way to bring mobility to students and teachers, successfully removing the need to set up high-cost computer labs in educational institutes.
Powered by cute little kid-friendly Intel powered laptops, Aftab believes that with his Classroom-on-Wheels initiative he can successfully change the way kids learn at schools. While learning with technology is much more fun than the typical chalk and blackboard culture, kids learn more efficiently in fun-filled way which takes out the boredom from regular learning. The cart which Aftab claims can be easily towed away by kids themselves, stores from 15 to 30 laptops which can be maneuvered easily from one classroom to another in a matter of minutes. With a built-in cooling system and requiring no special equipment to operate, the Classroom-on-Wheels has been successfully running in several schools and madrassas across Pakistan.
While it may look like the CoW is only designed for the affluent class, Aftab proudly claims that 75 per cent of the total deployments for CoWs is actually in government schools, flood affected areas, Baluchistan, FATA and the Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa province. He believes that the Classroom-on-Wheels has enormous potential of changing how kids learn at schools, all that is required is more people, NGOs and specially the government to support his initiative and help him in promulgating what is currently the need of the hour.
A French novelist Anatole France once said “An education isnt how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. Its being able to differentiate between what you know and what you dont”.
Aftab has done his part but he does not stop here, he has several other educational reforms rolled up his sleeve. All he needs is support; encouragement and recognition for his ideas which if benefited from, can bring about the much-needed educational revolution…a revolution which could soon see Pakistan moving from the list of developing nations to a developed nation. Wish him all the best!
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