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December 22, 2020

Shafqat Mahmood calls on madressahs to close in line with govt's directives

Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood. — The News/File 

Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood has called on all registered madressahs — who were defying the government's orders to close in light of the coronavirus pandemic — to heed the NCOC's orders.

As coronavirus cases across the country surged, the government instructed all educational institutions including schools, colleges and universities to close until January 10, 2021.

"All ministers have mutually decided that to keep all educational institutions, including schools, colleges, universities, and tuition centres closed. However, online classes will continue from November 26 to December 24 after which winter break will start. Schools will reopen on January 11, 2021," Shafqat Mahmood had said during a news conference.

According to sources, PM Imran Khan has asked the education minister to provide an explanation on why madressahs were still open. "If all educational institutions are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, then why are madressahs open," asked the prime minister, sources confirmed.

Despite clear instructions from the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) to close all schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions, sources said.

The Ministry of Education has contacted all madressahs that are still open and holding classes.

The education minister has issued directives to close all madressahs that are open across the country, confirmed sources, adding that the minister will apprise PM Imran Khan of his decision as well.

Schools were closed due to non-compliance of SOPs: Shafqat Mahmood

Last month, the education minister had revealed that the decision to close down educational institutes was taken due to non-compliance with government-issued coronavirus SOPs.

"The SOPs were not being followed as they should have been," he had said while talking to Geo Pakistan, adding that health department data showed rapid virus transmission in education institutes.

Stressing that children's health cannot be taken lightly, Mahmood had said there were around 50 million students across the country i.e. one-fourth of our population. "They can become carriers. So it was necessary to shut down schools."

He had urged students not to waste their idle time but study hard.

“I request all students to use this time not as a holiday but to revise their courses, do homework,” he had stated on Twitter. "In short, continue with studies as much as possible."