The advent of free online courses provided by non-profit institutions such as edX and Khan Academy have provided convenience and flexibility to students who want to continue learning. These online courses provide free education to all and are a supplement to in-class learning as well.
However, there is a catch. While most of these courses are available in a variety of languages such as Hindi, Chinese, Russian and Italian, they are not available in any of the native languages of Pakistan, making it harder for locals to benefit from them.
A student from Aitchison College, Lahore decided to translate a popular Computer Science course available on the edX platform into Urdu so it is easier to understand by a large population of native speakers.
Muhammad Saljuk Gondal got the idea for the project when he was volunteering at a local school and guiding a student through a computer science course titled CS50 by translating the lecture videos for him. Enlisting the help of his classmate Syed Rafay Hassan, he decided to translate the entire course into Urdu to make it more easier to understand by other Urdu speakers.
“After preparing a demo of the first lecture video, we reached out to Harvard’s CS50 Team in order to seek their permission to carry out the project,” said Gondal. “Their response was extremely enthusiastic. Not only did they give us permission but they also had a brief video chat with us where they asked us to work with them on their platform to translate the material to Urdu.”
Gondal said that the sheer volume of content that needs to be translated means that this project is quite a time consuming one. However, the project is expected to conclude in a year and will then be made available on the edX platform.
“This initiative is a great step to providing online courses from world-renowned universities in local languages and will help empower native speakers in Pakistan,” said Dr. Umar Saif, Chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board.
Founded by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012, edX is an online learning destination and MOOC provider that offers high-quality courses from the world’s best universities, nonprofits and institutions. It’s mission is to “increase access to high-quality education for everyone, everywhere.” edX is the only leading MOOC provider that is both nonprofit and open source.