Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

The Challenges and Advantages of E-learning in Afghanistan

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The Challenges and Advantages of E-learning  in Afghanistan

Although the third wave of covid-19 has not ended in the country, the educational centers are going to re-open from the next weeks with certain conditions and restrictions. Last week, the acting minister of public health indirectly said that the ministry of health agreed with the re-opening of the educational centers under certain pressures, not by its own professional verdict or diagnosis. So, it seems that this rapid decision is made under certain circumstances where the E-Learning programs have faced certain challenges and advantages in the context of Afghanistan. The advantages of the E-Learning program consist of removing dependence on time and location, unlimited access to resources, lower cost of learning, better time management, and up-to-date information. Also, adaptability and the ability to learn through games and entertaining activities could be counted as another advantage. The Challenges of E-learning are lack of internet, electricity, poor E-learning management, growing poverty, and so forth.
Unfortunately, challenges of E-learning have overwhelmed the advantages of E-learning programs in Afghanistan.    However, lack of access to 24-hour electricity and affordable internet is not a new challenge towards e-learning facilities, but in recent months almost, all large cities of the country became entirely dark. The enemies of enlightenment are successively putting pressure on the government and people through darkening and interrupting the normal lives of people in most parts of the country.  More than dozens of power pylons have been destroyed in a single month while after each incident the electricity cut off from 8 to 11 provinces of the country with million Afghanis expenses imposed on Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat in repairing each power pylon. Nevertheless, there is no certainty to see the end of the chronic issue in the country.  The second problem which highly impacted the educational system is the rise of poverty and uncertainty under shadow war, virus, and drought. Although the people were not in a favorable condition before, the emergence of these issues has further worsened the economic conditions of people throughout the country. Now, more than 70% of people do not have dry bread to survive, let alone send their children to schools and provide educational facilities. Unfortunately, the prices of the goods have dramatically increased in the chaotic free market of the country. Therefore, the poor economic condition of the people to provide E-learning facilities such as computers is considered the second key problem for e-learning. In addition, the young generation who are mostly unacquainted with computers and other modern technologies because of disregarding computer learning in schools have also magnified the problem.
The next problem pertains to private educational centers. Unfortunately, the private educational centers have largely been deviated from a sound course of the competition. On one hand, the people are suffering from the consequences of covid-19 and the high rise of poverty in the country. On the other hand, private schools ordain different charges on already poor people and students while they had already increased school fees without enhancing the quality of educational services and without adding to the salaries of the teachers. It seems that they just think about how to fill their pockets by hiring the weakest teachers with low pay salaries while attempting to collect more fees. At the beginning of the school year, they compelled a large number of families to shift to public schools while the public schools have no further capacity to accept more students. They have already faced increasing challenges such as teachers’ shortage, book shortage, and building shortages as aforementioned.
The other problem is lack of support and creativities from the ministry of higher education about e-learning programs. The ministry does not embolden innovations and actions of private sectors when it comes to developing an e-learning system development.
The ministry has not developed a plan to enhance e-learning while it considered a key obstacle towards e-learning. The ministry has no electronic libraries, learning resources, audios, and visual resources for students and teachers. Therefore, the passive approaches of the ministry have not only created distrust between the ministry and private educational centers but also created distrust about e-learning as there is limited understanding about e-learning in the country.
The last problem pertained to lack of public awareness is about utility and importance E-learning in the current era.  Therefore, the ministry of education and its stakeholders need to increase public awareness to strengthen trust among youngsters, families, and teachers about e-learning. Also, propagation of the culture of using online learning services, and convincing society about the need for distance learning in the modern world are vital in this regard. For example, empowering computer literacy and the use of devices in schools as e-learning fundamentally requires the use of computers and electronic appliances. Also, the experiences of countries that are culturally similar to Afghanistan should be utilized. In short, the general evaluation of the distance learning system in Afghanistan show it has not been effective due to the absence of an organized strategy, lack of technical resources, unfamiliarity, and lack of mental and physical readiness of educational institutions, students, and teachers for distance learning system. Nevertheless, the coronavirus pandemic was a good opportunity for Afghanistan to recognize its capacity and abilities regarding distance learning.
It has enabled us to better understand our weak points and limitations about e-learning. Hence, if the learned lessons from the coronavirus pandemic are carefully noticed, effective plans can be developed for the future.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail com.

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