Feature: China's technological support transforms higher education in Pakistan

Updated: March 20, 2024 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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by Misbah Saba Malik

ISLAMABAD, March 19 (Xinhua) -- In a remote sub-campus of Mandi Bahauddin in Pakistan's east Punjab province, Saima Noreen, a student of management sciences, attended a comprehensive lecture on business communication from a veteran professor who delivered at the main campus of the University of Gujrat in the newly inaugurated smart classroom.

"Through the smart classroom, students in remote areas, like me, are gaining access to lectures from seasoned professors at the main campus of the university, and the newly introduced classrooms are a great help to enrich our academic journey," Noreen told Xinhua.

A total of 100 classrooms, like the one on Noreen's campus, have been donated by the government and people of China to facilitate distance learning in Pakistan, and the state-of-the-art facility has garnered widespread appreciation for its myriad benefits, enhancing the learning experience for students across Pakistan.

Each classroom encompasses a comprehensive array of resources, including e-learning modules, virtual desktops, interactive whiteboards, classroom control systems, live virtual classrooms, interactive displays, and an innovative control center.

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan recently inaugurated classrooms across the country, marking a significant milestone as the ceremony was a novel experience for the students of about 90 campuses nationwide.

Noreen said the digital initiative represents a departure from conventional practices and highlights the growing integration of technology in education, which fosters a sense of connectivity among students from various locations.

"In the future, I would like to attend a lecture from a seasoned professor in some Chinese universities through my smart classroom, as it provides me with an opportunity to not only get connected within Pakistan but also to the world outside," she added.

Talking to Xinhua about the smart classroom, Jamil Ahmad, the top official of information technology in the HEC, said the classrooms will transform the education sector of Pakistan as hundreds of thousands of students attend lectures through them every month.

"Every Pakistani knows that the main aim of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is to uplift Pakistan's economy, and economic prosperity cannot be achieved without quality education, so these smart classrooms are very significant for the bright future of Pakistan," Ahmad said.

These classrooms are role models, and in the next phase, the HEC will expand them to over 1,000 campuses across the country, and students in remote areas will be able to get education from famous experts and professors in big cities through the classroom screens, he added.

The Smart Classroom represents a paradigm shift in educational technology, as it is designed to strengthen the bond between educators and learners in the realm of online education, Ahmad said.

"The classroom also helps us cut the cost in many universities as sometimes for some visiting faculty we can hire only one teacher who can teach on more than one campus through the classroom screen, and because of its latest technology, it gives students an experience as if the teacher is standing right in front of them, and they can ask any question from him and vice versa," the official added.

Pakistani students, teachers and officials believe that the inauguration of smart classrooms in their country with the help of China represents a significant stride toward bridging educational gaps, empowering students with cutting-edge resources, and fostering a collaborative and technologically-driven learning environment.

Launched in 2013, CPEC, a flagship project under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, is a corridor linking Pakistan's southwest Gwadar port with Kashgar in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, highlighting energy, transport, and industrial cooperation.

Editor: Tian Shenyoujia