In the past two years, the COVID 19 pandemic and the ensuing and repeated school closures has caused an unprecedented upheaval to the education of children world-wide. With the onset of the pandemic, actors in education systems responded in myriads of ways to ensure children continued to learn while at home and when schools reopened. The purpose of this case study is to explore how educational stakeholders in the federal and provincial governments in Pakistan – Balochistan, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Kyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and Sindh, responded to school closures and re-openings during the COVID 19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. As such, the research questions for the study are
1. How did actors in education respond to the COVID 19 pandemic in Pakistan?
2. What types of resilience capacities did actors in education exhibit?
To answer these questions, the case study delves into how the education actors - communities, parents, teachers, federal and provincial government education officials, private schools, non-governmental organizations, and international development partners responded and collaborated to support children’s learning, psycho-social support and well-being.
The case study draws on resilience, and social ecological frameworks to explore the response of Pakistani education system to the pandemic. A social ecological lens enables the examination of the interaction and relationships of the individual, the community, the learning environment and educational systems and policies (Bronfenbrenner, (1986). Resilience frameworks explore the practices of education actors which promote resilience during and after disasters. (Reyes, 2013; Shah, Paulson, Couch, 2020; Shah, 2019).
A qualitative case study method was best suited for this research study as it allows for an in-depth, descriptive and analytical study of how these education stakeholders responded to the challenges of the pandemic (Merriam, 1998). Data collection comprised semi structured interviews with purposive sampling of 34 individuals and 11 focus groups with public and private school teachers and parents. Emerging themes include the digital divide, strength in community, parent engagement and a lack of focus on marginalized populations. The emerging themes give examples of resilience capacities of stakeholder responses and illustrate positive, and promising practices as well as areas which need considerable reflection, and change in and implementation of federal and provincial policies.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1986) Ecology of the family as a context for human development. American Psychologist.32:513–531.
Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education. Revised and Expanded from" Case Study Research in Education." Jossey-Bass Publishers, 350 Sansome St, San Francisco, CA 94104.
Reyes, J. (2013). What matters the most for education resilience. A framework paper. World Bank
Shah, R. (2019). Transforming systems in times of adversity. White Paper, USAID Education and Conflict Network.