FEATURE: No Electricity or Internet, but still Connected to the World
AKES in Pakistan has made strides in strengthening information and communication technology (ICT) in the classrooms of some of their most remote schools. Despite the challenges of infrastructure, electricity, and internet, AKES,P has introduced two novel ICT interventions: a mobile computer lab, stocked with rugged, fall-resistant, and waterproof tablets, and internet via satellite (IVS).
Seven Aga Khan Schools in Gilgit-Baltistan have been provided with IVS, equipping students and teachers with immense and valuable educational resources online. In addition, two schools in Chitral (Aga Khan School, Parwak, and Aga Khan School, Mera Gram II) and three schools in the South have been provided with mobile computer labs. The AKS Parwak mobile lab as well as six Gilgit-Baltistan labs have recently been connected with IVS which is solar-powered, as electricity via grid is not available in these remote locations.
Instead of students going to a designated computer lab for their ICT lessons, the classroom now comes to them which is efficient and cost-effective. With the help of IVS, preloaded content such as Khan Academy tutorials and digital books can now be accessed by students across the region. In addition to the students, teachers are able to make use of innumerable online resources. They are able to improve their pedagogical skills with the help of preloaded lesson plans, supplementary content, and teaching aids. Aga Khan Schools have established computer labs in its schools prior to these new innovations. However, there is a challenge with accessing strong and reliable connectivity in more distant areas, such as those in Northern Pakistan, where many schools operate in remote, mountainous regions where electricity and internet access is scarce.
AKES,P plans to expand the provision of mobile labs to more remote schools. Within the next year, another five schools will be established with mobile labs. Meanwhile, those schools which have computer labs but are in areas without internet connectivity will be connected through IVS.