This is a response to Dr HoodBouy article that was published in the express tribune on April 29th, 2012.
I am not trying to defend the scheme of laptop distribution scheme of Shahbaz Shareef, but trying to point out some of the misconceptions that were there in the Hoodbouy article.
Point 1: According to Hoodbouy, laptops are not silver bullets that can transform Pakistan Education. In my view, this concept is based on the assumption that laptops alone are just like books and mostly you require the teachers to learn it. I would like to remind Dr Hoodbouy, the project named “Hole in the wall” of Dr Sugata Mitra. Through his project, he has proved number of times that children have the capacity to learn by themselves. Project results have also shown that children living in the remote areas not only can learn simple subjects but also complex topics as well. So India is actively working on this project and trying to transform their education than why not it can transform Pakistani Education.
Point 2: Hoodbouy considered the distribution of laptops, useless because they are not loaded with educational softwares and school teachers are not trained to teach via computers. Again I will move on the next experiment of Dr Sugata Mitra where he involved number of british grandmothers and children over the internet viaskype and the result of the project shows that teaching via computer doesn’t require teachers even grandmothers can help. Answer to the educational software is that many softwares can be downloaded from the internet and even he himself had mentioned this in his article as well.
Point 3: He shows unlikeness towards the laptops on his opinion that most of the laptops will be used for gaming, chatting and surfing. I fail to understand that what the problem with this. Researchers also communicate and chat. Everyone play games for relaxation. But why you underestimate the power of online libraries. Even social media sites are proving to me more educational than normal way of teaching. Collaborative learning can never happen without the collision of the random ideas and for that matter these things are necessary. Old ways of teaching and learning (everything by heart) are not proving to be useful in the current era.
Point 4: Everything in Pakistan, start with the name of education but later that never serve the education. Honestly sir, if we think only the degree and degree programs as education than I agree that TV hasn’t served the education but learning doesn’t restricted to degrees only. With every news, drama and entertainment we use to learn so I think they are serving for education.
Point 5: According to Hoodbouy, the Annual Status of Education report shows that Pakistani students are very poor in reading and writing so how they can get the benefit from the laptops. Sir, this is the problem of education system where we want from each student to learn everything by heart, i.e. memorize every subject and as a result student doesn’t feel interest in the subjects. Change the system to more interactive and interesting these problems will be removed. According to Sir Ken Robinson our schools and education system is killing the creativities of the students. Creativity can never happen by rotting the subjects. Yes laptops give them the opportunity to scroll the world in their own way and find their own creative ways of learning. Here I agree with you that money should be spend on improving the educational system instead of spending public money on laptops.
To summarize everything, I would say that laptops and computers can be useful in learning and getting education so criticizing them is wrong. Yes why the public money is being spend by the Punjab govt, is worthy questionable? Which I think should be spend on building school infrastructures.