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Tabadlab Policy Roundtable 02: Tackling COVID-19 in Education

You can download the e-reader friendly version here.

How can innovative solutions tackle the disruption in the education system amidst the COVID-19 outbreak?

As with most aspects of life, the COVID-19 crisis has brought education systems in most countries of the world to a screeching halt. But as exams are delayed, teachers are disoriented and students are displaced, the speakers at Tabadlab’s Policy Roundtable voice their thoughts on the transformational possibilities this pandemic might offer. Here we discuss how the prevailing educational crisis of Pakistan is impacted by COVID-19 and how a consortium of public and private entities pulled together a rapid response to cope with it.

Featured Panelists:

Umbreen Arif is the Technical Adviser for the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training.


Kasim Kasuri is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Beaconhouse School System.


Salman Naveed Khan is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Pakistan Alliance for Maths and Science.


Nimra Tariq is an Education Consultant at the Programme Monitoring & Implementation Unit with the Government of Punjab.


Khadija Shahper Bakhtiar is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) & Founder of Teach For Pakistan.


Discussion Summary:

How did a notoriously unhurried bureaucratic system manage to respond to pressing educational needs within a mere fortnight? Our panellists share their views on the collaboration between distinct public sector entities in the federal and provincial governments with private EdTech companies.
What are the media that are being utilised to reach out to students sitting at home across the country? From Teleschool to Taleem Ghar and beyond, we consider the prospects of embedding education across platforms and increasing the capacity to impart digital learning.
How difficult has it been for teachers to adapt to digital means while maintaining a sense of normalcy for their students? Has the educational system in any way trained them for such circumstances? And how much of a gap exists in this preparedness between public and private sector institutions?
Digital divide
With almost half of students currently without access to digital education, has COVID-19 accentuated the education inequity across socio-economic strata? How is this gap manifesting itself through regions, income groups and gender to reveal who continues the learning journey and who is left behind?
What are some of the ideas in the works regarding how communication with students can be made interactive instead of a one-way stream? We discuss the possibilities of SMS loops, testing capacities and whether the current examination system is ideal for assessing students.
Will COVID-19 further exacerbate the crisis of out-of-school children or can it serve as an equaliser to bring them into the fold? How can we create accelerated learning programmes to widen the net of literacy in Pakistan? And how are the millions of madrassah students coping during the pandemic?
Could this catastrophe really provide an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and reassess what an education system should deliver? Our panellists speak of how the education sector has been unprecedentedly forced away from brick and mortar issues to debating structures of learning – and how this could be the new normal.


• Testing new methods to convey and receive information from students
• Preparing teachers to adapt to the “new normal”
• Working towards minimising the digital gap in the long run
• Ensuring inclusivity for students across class, gender and geography
• Rethinking existing education philosophy, structures and methods

Key Resources:

Teleschool Agenda

COVID-19 Education Actions

Pakistan Tackling Covid-19 In Education – Tabadlab

Kasuri, Kasim. (November 2015). Future Education

Naveed, Salman. (October 2019). The Lahore Science Mela 2019 made science accessible and its model should go nationwide

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A Resident Fellow and Head of Growth at Tabadlab.