Among the developing member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Pakistan ranks as the least prepared nation for digital education, according to the ADB’s report titled “Towards Mature Digital Education Ecosystems, the Digital Education Readiness Framework.” 

The report underscores several areas where Pakistan needs improvement, including low internet connectivity (only 34.1 per cent of households are connected), slow fixed broadband speeds, high fixed line broadband costs, and limited rural electricity access.

In contrast, Uzbekistan stands out as the most prepared country for digital education, closely followed by Indonesia. On the flip side, Pakistan is the least ready, with Fiji following suit. 

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Across all five evaluation pillars, the “Providers” category shows the lowest performance, with six out of the ten DMCs categorised as “initial” in readiness, including Cambodia, Bangladesh, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Fiji (in descending order of scores). The remaining four countries are classified as “emerging” in readiness, comprising Indonesia, the Philippines, Viet Nam, and Uzbekistan.

The gap between the model country’s normalised score and the highest-scoring country is a significant 45 points. While the 10 DMCs manage to keep mobile broadband costs relatively low as a per centage of GNI per capita, there is considerable variation in fixed broadband costs. 

Cambodia, Indonesia, and Pakistan emerge as the least affordable in this aspect, while Bangladesh, Mongolia, and Uzbekistan offer more cost-effective solutions.

In terms of urban electricity access, most countries excel, with nearly 100 per cent of urban households having access to electricity. Rural electricity access in the 10 DMCs ranges from 90 per cent to 100 per cent, with Pakistan lagging behind at just 41.3 per cent of rural households lacking access to electricity.

Households with TV coverage are relatively high across the board, averaging 81.7 per cent. Cable TV subscriptions per 1,000 individuals vary from low to moderate among the countries studied, with Pakistan having the highest subscription rate.

Pakistan’s National Education Policy for 2017–2025 focuses on enhancing ICT access in schools, using ICT to improve teaching quality and student learning, and developing complementary ICT approaches. However, it lacks clarity on access to devices.

Teacher training in ICT skills, particularly for online education delivery, is lacking. Although teachers do create their own educational content, it tends to be basic, such as documents and presentations. Internet quality varies, with schools having some limitations in handling heavier content, while higher education and TVET teachers enjoy better quality.

Institutional support for teachers in delivering online education requires improvement, particularly in schools, where paper-dependent systems are prevalent. Students in Pakistan exhibit reasonable proficiency in digital skills, but access to devices at home is limited, with smartphone access being the primary means.

The utilisation of private EdTech platforms for conducting classes or interacting with students is quite low among teachers. Pakistan also has a relatively small share of ICT graduates among tertiary education graduates.

Pakistan, as a partner state of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), has utilised GPE grants for tech tools to deploy teachers where needed and introduced apps for teacher attendance in certain regions. These initiatives aim to support distance learning across the country.