Raising awareness through COVID-19 communications campaigns in Pakistan

Read how a GPE-funded program is generating grass-root level awareness about how students, teachers and parents can maintain good health and hygiene along with keeping positive mental health.

Children following COVID-19 SOPs while celebrating cultural day at a school. Credit: MOFEPT)
Children following COVID-19 SOPs while celebrating cultural day at a school.
Credit: MOFEPT

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a massive loss of human lives and challenges to economies across the globe. One of the most affected sectors in every country was education, as schools, colleges and universities were abruptly closed and shifted to online platforms and remote education; and the situation in Pakistan was no exception.

This unexpected scenario became extremely challenging for the Government of Pakistan as students, teachers and the relevant authorities were not acclimated to this new teaching and learning style. However, timely decisions were made to make full use of digital transformation, and this unprecedented challenge was turned into an opportunity.

Multiple activities have been launched to support the education system in responding to the COVID-19 crisis under the GPE-funded COVID-19 Response, Recovery and Resilience Project.

One of the most significant and timely initiatives is the broadcasting of distance-learning content through Teleschool on Pakistan Television (PTV) & Radio, which is reaching students in even the most far-flung areas of the country.

Many other initiatives like the distribution of COVID-related sanitizing and hygiene kits were undertaken to ensure that students and teachers could follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the safe reopening and functioning of schools. Training of teachers, dissemination of learning materials and gender-focused activities are being carried out under these projects as well.

Students wearing masks in classroom of a girls’ school. Credit: MOFEPT)
Students wearing masks in classroom of a girls’ school.
Credit:
MOFEPT

A critical element of this program was the launching of a communications campaign for promoting COVID-19 related hygiene and safety practices, the availability of distance learning content and the importance of learning continuity and reenrollment, and sensitization on socioemotional and behavioral impacts.

Since the start of this campaign, its focus has been on generating grass-root level awareness about how students, teachers and parents can maintain good health and hygiene along with keeping positive mental health.

Additionally, the campaign was designed to be representative from a socio-economic and gender perspective.

Awareness campaign visual
Awareness campaign visual

Awareness to use hygiene kit items

The campaign kick-started with emphasis on use of hygiene kits by students and teachers to ensure safe reopening of schools. National and regional language newspapers and social media channels were used to deliver the important messages of maintaining good health and hygiene and continuity of education.

The readership of newspapers totaled around 12 million people along with 3 million people viewing it on social media. Moreover, a large-scale TV campaign is helping generate awareness on the use of hygiene kits.

Awareness campaign visual
Awareness campaign visual

“We were very scared because of the Coronavirus spread when schools reopened but then I saw some social media posts from the Ministry of Federal Education on Facebook. These interesting posts really helped me in learning how to stay safe at school.”

Maryam Bibi, Student of Grade 6 (Attock)
Awareness campaign visual
Awareness campaign visual.

Vaccination and SOPs during the spread of the Omicron variant

In order to address the fast spread of the virus across Pakistan in early 2022, timely information on vaccinations and SOPs was shared through an SMS campaign for students, teachers and parents.

Around 1.2 million messages were sent out. In parallel, creative social media posts were launched to shed light on the importance of maintaining safety during the spread of the Omicron variant.

Awareness on learning continuity and socio-emotional impact

The campaign is not just limited to generating awareness about health and safety. Work is also underway to design a campaign surrounding the importance of learning continuity and reenrollment, the availability of distance learning materials and educational and infotainment content and the multiple channels to access them.

Forthcoming activities are planned to ensure that students, teachers and parents – especially females— are aware of available mechanisms and support to cope with stress linked to the pandemic and the disruptions to the education sector.

Awareness campaign visuals
Awareness campaign visuals

The awareness generated through the communications campaign is reaching people across the country, including those living in the most remote areas. It is playing an eminent role in informing students about the educational content they can access in their homes and how they can maintain good physical and mental health and hygiene in schools and beyond.

The campaign is breaking geographical and social barriers, creating avenues to reach out-of-school children and females, and playing a role in empowering communities as well as building resilience through education.

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South Asia: Pakistan

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