Learning Mathematics at a Distance in Pakistan: Students' Opinions

By Khan, Shahinshah Babar | Distance Learning, May 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Learning Mathematics at a Distance in Pakistan: Students' Opinions


Khan, Shahinshah Babar, Distance Learning


Introduction

Education provides a way to progress and prosperity. The nations with high literacy rates are more prosperous and more independent and the nations with low literacy rates are depending on other nations even for the use of their own resources. The Dakar Framework Education for All (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization [UNESCO], 2000, p. 8) says that education is a fundamental human right. It is the key to sustainable development and peace and stability within and among countries, and thus an indispensable means for effective participation in the societies and economies of the twenty-first century. It is an admitted fact that education plays a vital role in the personality of individuals. Educated peoples can play their role effectively in the progress of the nation. The importance of education has been increased with the emergence of globalization. This phenomenon has created many opportunities and challenges for the nations all around the world. Globalization has affected the educational system of the whole world. Almost all countries in the world are trying to educate more and more people so as to play their role for the economic development of their country. The aim of distance education is to educate those people who were dropped at any stage or unable to attend conventional institutions due to different problems. Distance education accommodates such people in all respects. Pakistan is one of the most populated countries in the world. According to a Government of Pakistan (2009) economic survey for 2008-2009, "total population in Pakistan is 163.76 million in 2008-2009" (p. 177). Pakistan's National Educational Policy (2009) declares that education is a vital investment for human and economic development and is influenced by the environment within which it exists. The government of Pakistan is determined to raising her literacy rate, though it is a big challenge. In a 20072008 economie survey of Pakistan (Government of Pakistan, 2008), the role of education in economic development is stated in the following words:

Education is central to socio-economic development of a country. It plays a critical role in building human capacities and accelerates economic growth through knowledge, skill and creative strength of a society. Education also creates awareness, tolerance, self esteem and confidence which empower people to defend their rights, (p. 169)

In Pakistan, due to different problems the majority of students drop out after completing elementary school. Bilquees and Saqib (2004) conducted a study entitled Drop-Out Rates and Inter-School Movements: Evidence from Panel Data. One of the objectives of this study was to determine and analyze the factors that force the students to drop out. They found that female drop-out rate in rural areas (24.6 %) is high as compared to female drop-out rate in urban areas (17.0%). While male dropout rates for urban and rural areas are virtually identical (23.7 % and 23.5 %), they found that economic factor is the main reason of high male drop-out in urban and rural areas. Moreover, less government efforts and cultural values are the main reasons of female dropout in rural areas.

Pakistan's national average ratio of secondary to primary school is 1:6 but, in certain parts of the country, it reaches 1:13 (National Education Policy, 2009). Government is trying its best to bring these dropped students back into the educational stream. In 1974, the government of Pakistan established Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), which imparts education through distance mode. Currently, AIOU is one of the mega universities in the world. It is providing education from certificate level to PhD level in arts as well as in science subjects. At the secondary level mathematics is a compulsory subject in the conventional institutions and holds the same position in the distance education system. Mathematics is also a compulsory subject at the secondary school level offered by the university. …

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