Education-Technology_D_optNELSON MANDELA famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nowhere is this truer than in Pakistan. We are currently witnessing a social paradigm shift in Pakistan; one that has come about due to the increased knowledge brought by the communications and media revolution. This monumental rise in social awareness has been facilitated almost entirely by technology – it started with the mobile boom, and continues with the Internet revolution.

If education is the acquisition of knowledge, then technology has undoubtedly been a key catalyst in the evolution of modern education. With the right training and adequate facilities, students today can learn more through the use of technology than has ever been possible before in human society. Education is after all at its core the expansion of the mind and training to think, analytically and efficiently. As such, technology provides us access to educational tools of unparalleled power. Technology today allows a child in Pakistan to interact with a child in the US, whereby both can overcome preconceived notions and share their ideas. This is an ideal educational environment.

Before we look at the role of technology with respect to education in Pakistan, lets take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The inclusion of technology in the classroom began in earnest around the time the first personal computers hit the market. Some could afford to purchase and house a computer in a classroom, and not just one, but many. This inclusion of technology in the classroom had an indelible impact on the provision of education. From a simply practical point of view, laptops and personal computers help reduce the costs and problems associated with providing education; they also help teachers maintain best practices by updating them about innovations, improvements and breakthroughs in their respective fields. For students, the primary use of technology in the classroom is the ease and efficiency it provides to learn. Indeed, it is here that the enabling role of technology with regards to learning becomes instantly clear.

Shahzad Aslam Khan

In a country like Pakistan, with rising costs of living and limited access to educational facilities, the benefits of technology has become all the more evident. Books, pencils, copy books cost money – more every year. With the internet and a laptop or tablet computer students can have access to any number of books and virtually unlimited amounts of data on whatever they choose to research. This not only cuts costs and makes education a far more real possibility for millions of people but it also changes how learning happens.

This is the primary reason why technology companies have stepped up to the plate to provide bright and talented students across the country with the latest laptops. Initially laptop distribution began in Punjab, where 110,000 customised Inspiron laptops were distributed to bright and talented students across 26 districts of the province, with an additional 150 free laptops presented to students with special needs. The Punjab laptop project has been the largest IT initiative in the history of Pakistan.

One of the recipients of the laptop, Sahar Jabeen, a student of Punjab University, was quoted as saying, “Education has never been a priority or concern in our country; giving laptops is a great step towards encouraging students to focus on learning. Despite being such a talented nation, we are quite behind other countries. Being IT-savvy and a more informed society will help us compete internationally.”

The KPK government is now continuing this initiative and provides students in the province with 25,000 Inspiron laptops. This initiative is the largest of its kind ever in the province and is designed to help enable students and people of KPK to become productive and contributing members of society and to give back to the province.

This work is truly an investment in the youth of Pakistan and the future progress of the country. We in Pakistan need to be a part of the global knowledge based environment to be able to adapt to the changing-socio economic conditions around the globe. This is impossible with outdated education models, deficient infrastructure, limited teacher coverage, small budgets, and low enrolment. As the world moves deeper into the Information Age, these factors have the potential to continue to result in poor educational outcomes that will severely limit our progress as a nation. It is only by investing in our youth and their education that we can move forward as a nation and demonstrate global progress. And let us remember, education is a process; the use of technology can simply support or refine that process.

We are proud to play a pivotal role in these key initiatives of our country and looks forward to further opportunities of empowering the youth of Pakistan to do and achieve more.

The author is the Country Manager for Dell Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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