Around the world, the spread of COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on health, lives and jobs, including in Pakistan. We’ve had to make fundamental changes to the way we live and work, and the economic impact is affecting businesses everywhere. Yet we’ve also heard humbling and inspiring stories of health care workers on the front lines, businesses providing vital resources and support, and families and communities being there for one another—showing us that if everyone plays their part, we can and will get through this together.
Overcoming a crisis on this scale will take a sustained effort, and we want to do everything we can to help. Since the virus first began to spread, our focus at Google has been on making sure people have the information and tools they need. But we know there’s much more work ahead.
We’re sharing the actions we have been taking and will continue to take to support Pakistan both in the ongoing short-term response to the virus, and in the long-term, concentrating on three priorities that we believe are critical to a sustainable recovery:
- Promoting authoritative and reliable information;
- Supporting education and learning; and
- Contributing to business continuity and economic recovery
Promoting authoritative and reliable information sources
It’s crucial that people have access to health information they can trust online, so they can make the right decisions to protect themselves and those around them from COVID-19. We’ve surfaced the latest updates and health advice from international health authorities across Search, Maps and YouTube in Urdu and English. We’ve also helped promote hygiene awareness campaigns, shared travel advisories, and stepped up our work to curb misinformation spreading on Google, YouTube or through apps on the Play Store.
We’re going to build on these efforts in months ahead in Pakistan, that means having our own local website dedicated to COVID-19 education, prevention, and resources. This includes best practices on prevention, links to authoritative information from the Government of Pakistan and helpful tips and tools from Google for individuals, educators and businesses. The website is rolling out today and will be continually enhanced and updated with more resources.
Reliable information is vital in the fight to slow the virus’ spread and ultimately prepare for economic recovery. We’ll continue working to expand the number of authoritative sources that people can trust, and combat misinformation that can risk people’s health and hold back the global response.
Supporting education and learning
In Pakistan, approximately 60 million students may be out of school because of restrictions on movement and gathering sizes. That’s putting huge pressure on families, schools and the incredible teachers who nurture our children’s passion for learning.
To help teachers get the support they need to teach remotely, we’ve made tools like Hangouts Meet and Google Classroom available for free, provided training and tips through both Google and YouTube, and launched Teach from Home with UNESCO as a central hub for teachers around the world.
We all know the power of great teachers and inspiring lessons, and we hope these steps will help our students continue to learn for as long as schools remain closed, and return energised when the education system re-opens.
Contributing to business continuity and economic recovery
Small businesses are the heart of our economy and communities and, from small retailers to restaurants, they’ve been hit hardest by the outbreak. Global businesses like Google have a responsibility to help them withstand the economic impact and lead the way in the recovery.
We’ve launched our Grow with Google site for Pakistanis to benefit from free training, tools and events to help grow their skills, career, or business. We’ve also launched a related site on remote working to help folks work, teach and learn from anywhere.
We also recently announced an $800 million commitment to support small businesses around the world with access to finance, ad credits and grants to help meet the costs of the virus. At the same time, we have taken teachings from our programs to social media as well as the Google Primer free app to continue training small businesses in digital skills and enable their employees to work remotely.
While our efforts now have to be focused on dealing with immediate health needs and supporting communities, it’s important that we also look to the long-term. For Pakistan to move beyond COVID-19, we have to lay foundations today: helping businesses not just to adapt in extraordinary circumstances, but to rebuild and create economic growth and jobs as we move into the recovery phase.
Upholding our responsibility
COVID-19 puts intense demands on us all, and we’re determined to uphold our responsibility in this unprecedented time: to enable access to trusted information, support remote learning, back small businesses, and more. The initiatives we’ve shared today are the start. We’re standing with Pakistan to do all we can to help as we overcome COVID-19 and shape a stronger future.