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Transforming Pakistan’s Learning Landscape

Fauzia Kerai Khan discusses how AI-driven EdTech can reshape learning in Pakistan.
Published 27 Feb, 2024 09:54am

AI has transformed the way we live, work and learn and education technology (EdTech) is revolutionising how we teach and learn. In Pakistan, a country with a burgeoning young population and a rising demand for education, AI-driven EdTech is proving to be a game-changer. AI-powered systems analyse individual learning styles and speeds, customise content, and deliver real-time feedback. This allows pupils to understand things more efficiently and at their own pace. As digital literacy becomes increasingly important, Pakistan must invest in digital literacy initiatives to close the digital gap and guarantee that all its citizens have access to, and use, digital technologies for both learning and work.

The Rise of EdTech and AI
From interactive learning apps to AI-powered analytical tools, EdTech is redefining the educational experience by offering personalised learning journeys, making education more accessible and engaging.

Local Pioneers in AI EdTech
While comprehensive data on Pakistan’s AI-driven EdTech outcomes is still developing, global trends indicate a positive trajectory with 481 EdTech start-ups in Pakistan. In the US, AI-driven programmes have been shown to improve learning outcomes by up to two times.

Dot & Line is at the forefront, deploying AI to customise learning experiences. Its approach is akin to Carnegie Learning and by analysing children’s responses, the platform adapts teaching methods and materials in real-time and optimises learning paths with AI algorithms.

Maqsad is making waves with mobile-first education solutions. Their platform uses AI to provide tailored learning experiences, drawing parallels to the likes of international EdTech giant Byju’s, which uses AI and machine learning to customise education for millions of students globally.

Reptutor is an AI-driven EdTech platform in Pakistan that provides schools with actionable insights, paralleling the data-centric approaches of global platforms like BrightBytes, thereby enabling educators to make informed decisions.

Nearpeer offers AI-based online courses that adapt to student performance, similar to Knewton Alta, an adaptive learning platform widely adopted in the US. The technology adjusts content in real-time based on student performances, enhancing the learning process.

Breaking Language Barriers
Sabaq uses AI to overcome language barriers, reminiscent of Duolingo’s success. Their multilingual platforms ensure that education is accessible to all, regardless of linguistic background. Language variation within Pakistan poses a significant challenge and AI-driven language models are being employed to offer Urdu and English learning content, democratising access for students regardless of their mother tongue. EdTech start-ups like Sabaq are employing AI to offer multilingual content, making education more accessible to students across Pakistan’s diverse linguistic landscape.

Global Benchmarks and Local Impact
While Pakistani EdTech firms are in earlier growth stages compared to giants, like Coursera and Khan Academy, they show promising results. Reptutor is leveraging AI to offer analytics-driven insights to educators, a move towards data-informed strategies championed by BrightBytes. Globally, AI’s impact on EdTech is quantifiable. Noodle’s use of AI for personalised learning paths has led to a reported 75% retention rate in courses, a figure that Pakistani platforms are striving to match. Comparatively, Pakistan’s adoption of AI in EdTech is nascent but shows promise. For instance, China’s Squirrel AI provides personalised tutoring for students, similar to what Pakistani start-ups aspire to achieve at scale.

Challenges and Growth
In Pakistan, several challenges hinder the seamless integration of AI in Pakistani education, including a high dropout rate, inadequate infrastructure, and limited access to quality education in rural areas. A primary issue is limited access to technology, especially in remote areas, a reality that excludes many students from AI-driven learning experiences. Resistance to change is another roadblock. Traditional teaching methods have deep roots in Pakistani culture, making it challenging to convince educators, parents and policymakers to embrace AI as a valuable educational tool. There is also a shortage of AI expertise in the education sector, making it difficult to implement and manage AI solutions effectively. Furthermore, the deployment of AI in the EdTech sector faces infrastructural and adoption challenges, although thanks to increased internet penetration and government initiatives like ‘Digital Pakistan’, there is a clear path to overcoming these hurdles. Additionally, the recent collaboration between the Higher Education Commission and Microsoft to launch the AI Skilling Programme and Founders Hub in Pakistan signals a commitment to revolutionise technological education in Pakistan.

In terms of future trends, Pakistan’s EdTech space is expected to be shaped by AI in several ways:

Personalised Learning Paths
AI’s ability to customise the curriculum revolves around the creation of personalised learning paths. Each student’s academic journey is different, and AI recognises this fact. By analysing students’ past performances, learning preferences, and areas of difficulty, AI can determine the optimal route for each learner. If a student excels in mathematics but struggles with literature, AI can prioritise mathematics-related content and offer additional support for literature.

Adaptation to Learning Styles
One of the remarkable aspects of AI-driven curriculum customisation is its adaptability to various learning styles. Every student has a unique approach to learning, be it visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, or a combination of these. AI can identify the predominant learning style of each student and present content in a manner that aligns with their preferences. For visual learners, AI might provide interactive diagrams and infographics, while for auditory learners, it could recommend podcasts or audiobooks.

Voice-Assisted Learning
With the global rise of voice-assisted technology like Amazon’s Alexa in education, Pakistani EdTech may soon integrate similar AI-powered voice interfaces to aid learning.

Augmented Reality (AR) for Immersive Learning
Following global trends, Pakistani EdTech firms might start using AR for immersive learning experiences, like Labster’s virtual science labs.

Collaborative AI
AI systems that facilitate peer-to-peer learning and collaboration on projects, reflecting the collaborative nature of platforms like GitHub in the tech space, could emerge as a trend.

Predictive Analytics
Companies could implement predictive analytics to identify students at risk of falling behind, similar to the AI functionalities used by DreamBox Learning in the US.

Enhanced Test Preparation
AI-driven assessments that can evaluate a student’s understanding and provide immediate, targeted feedback could become more widespread.

Blockchain for Credentialing
Secure, verifiable credentials via blockchain technology could elevate Pakistan’s EdTech offerings, following the example of institutions like MIT.

AI-Driven Career Guidance
Taking cues from Roadtrip Nation, AI could soon personalise career planning for Pakistani students.

AI in Test Preparation
Tailored test prep, inspired by Magoosh, may become more prevalent in Pakistan, enhancing academic outcomes by offering individualised study plans, a strategy ripe for adoption in Pakistan.

As Pakistan’s digital infrastructure continues to grow, the potential for AI to transform education is vast. By learning from global precedents and focusing on local challenges, Pakistani EdTech companies can harness AI to deliver customised, accessible, and effective education – preparing the next generation for the challenges of the future.

Fauzia Kerai Khan is CEO, I&B Consulting, Assessing Learning, Consulting.