The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted all aspects of life. This is particularly true of school education. While there is no real substitute to in-person learning, the pandemic has allowed the possibility of a broader outreach using online and televised video lessons.
Pakistan has serious education challenges. The literacy rate hovers around 65% with significant gender disparity. The closure of schools because of the pandemic forced the government to quickly launch an education channel called “”Teleschool”” aimed at children from kindergarten to High School, with an hour each day devoted to each grade. A television channel is necessary as less than 40% of Pakistani households have access to broadband internet. The channel caters mostly children in government schools representing largely underprivileged families.
This proposal is not about addressing all the education challenges in Pakistan. Instead, our goal is to take a small slice of the curriculum related to astronomy for 6th-8th grades and create high quality video and supporting online content. This can then serve as a prototype to include astronomy lessons for other grades, and if successful, to serve as a potential guide for other subjects as well.
We have been creating online astronomy videos in Urdu for the past couple of years (www.youtube.com/kainaatastronomyinurdu). These videos are aimed at general audience and use astronomy to instill curiosity and wonder about the universe and to highlight the way science works. Some of these videos that happen to match the curriculum of public schools in Pakistan are already being shown on Teleschool.
Our goal for the proposal is to create a set of 10 high quality videos that tag closely with 6th-8th grade space and astronomy curriculum. Apart from the Teleschool, these videos will be available online as well. Furthermore, we will create a website with supporting resources, including some interactive demos and quizzes to create interest in the subject.”