Corona virus crisis has fast tracked the adoption of online education system in Pakistan. Various universities have adopted online system to ensure continuity of education session of their students. Though it is an appreciable step, it has some inherent difficulties such as inaccessibility of technology, lack of internet availability, poor digital provision of subject matter and substandard interactivity with the teachers. Other than the usual problems, online education system has also led to the harassment of female students during the classes.
Various harassment incidents have been reported by female students in virtual sessions. In online meeting apps, the mechanism for classes is to create and share link with all participants. The same links are reportedly shared by some male students with their friends who in turn harass female students during online sessions.
“While interacting during online class, a totally unknown person, messaged me inquiring about my private life”, says one of the female student while addressing the students’ union press conference in Islamabad. “Our social media account IDs get hacked and random men harassed us in all possible ways. Female students are now reluctant to take online classes in this situation”, she added.
Regardless of virtual or interactive classes, learning process requires a peaceful and conducive environment. Any type of harassment can hinder person’s capability of learning and in turn effect his or her overall performance. In face of such online harassment, it is clearly evident that it will affect overall performance of female students keeping them at a clear disadvantage to their male counterparts.
When asked, many female students without revealing their identity stated that they have reported online harassment incidents to the concerned officials including related university administrations but nothing has been done so far.
Some students while expressing their views offered Higher Education Commission to allow them to design safe Official Digital Application for education. “We will develop a Learning Management Application, and its link will not go down even in remote areas. Through this medium, exams and classes ought to be taken easily plus the students belonging to the far-flung regions would also be benefited”, said a computer science student while addressing media.
It must be accepted that introduction of online classes had become compulsion and government had very less time to develop a secure environment for its deployment. However, online system is the future of learning and government should exploit this opportunity to fast track its development and improvement. The system should be able to provide a conducive secure environment to all students in order to ensure equal opportunity to all.
Moreover, administration and government should also improve cyber bullying and harassment reporting system making it less complicated and easy. Any such harassment should be dealt promptly punishing the perpetrators to ensure requisite deterrence.