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Shafqat Mehmood says schools to reopen countrywide, except in Sindh

"Exams of classes 9, 10, 11, and 12 will take place in accordance with their date sheet," says education minister

By Web Desk
August 04, 2021
Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood addressing a press conference in Islamabad, on August 4, 2021. — YouTube
Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood addressing a press conference in Islamabad, on August 4, 2021. — YouTube

Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood  on Wednesday said the Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC) has decided to keep educational institutions across the country open, with the exception of Sindh.

Mehmood said Minister for Education Sindh Saeed Ghani had informed the IPEMC the province's schools would remain closed till August 8. Ghani said the provincial government would review the COVID-19 situation before August 8 to decide the next course of action for reopening schools and conducting examinations.

The education minister's press conference comes after he chaired a meeting of the IPEMC to review the latest coronavirus situation, closure, and opening of schools.

On the other hand, Punjab, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have decided to reopen schools in a staggered manner, with 50% attendance.

Key decisions

- Schools to open in a staggered manner.

- 50% attendance to be observed.

- Universities, colleges to open with no restrictions.

- Sindh's schools to remain closed till August 8.

- Exams to take place according to time table.

- Sindh to announce time table later.

- Students to get 5% extra marks in exams.

The IPEMC decided to reopen universities and colleges with no restrictions imposed, however, the participants of the meeting expressed concerns over the coronavirus situation in higher education institutions, said Mehmood.

"The overall vaccination rate in the education [sector] has reached 83%, but inoculations are lagging in higher education institutions which should be ramped up," the education minister said.

For this, the education ministers have been urged to make special efforts to get university students — as they are above 18-years of age — and teachers, vaccinated, Mehmood said.

In this regard, it is crucial that transport personnel get vaccinated and a deadline of August 31 has already been set for them, the education minister said.

Mehmood said all the examinations would continue according to schedule, while there will be changes in Sindh's timetable. "The exams of classes 9, 10, 11, and 12 will take place in accordance with their date sheet."

Shedding light on another important decision, he said the IPEMC had decided to conduct examinations of only elective subjects, and the marks obtained in them would be proportionally allocated for compulsory subjects.

"The IPEMC has decided the students would be given an additional 5% marks in exams as according to research, students get better marks in compulsory subjects," he said.

"The next education-related meeting will take place on August 25, along with the National Command and Operations Centre. Till then, these decisions will remain in place," Mehmood said.

For now, I request students to not pay heed to news on social media as there are a lot of rumours there, he said, adding authentic news would be announced by the education ministry.

"Every decision we take is in the best interest of students."

The IPEMC meeting

All the provincial education ministers, relevant senior officials, and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan attended the meeting.

The participants had discussed the start of the new academic session, reopening of schools in light of the current COVID-19 situation, and vaccination of school teachers and other staff members.

Actions to strengthen performance for inclusive and responsive education, funding, coordination, and reporting also came under discussion.

Sindh's schools to remain shut till August 8

Following the meeting, Education Minister Saeed Ghani said all educational institutions in the province would remain closed till August 8 and the remaining intermediate exams in Sindh will take place after the coronavirus situation gets better.

The education minister, in a statement, said that the educational institutions will remain closed in line with Sindh's coronavirus restrictions imposed as part of a province-wide lockdown.

"The coronavirus situation in Sindh, and especially Karachi, is not satisfactory," the education minister said, adding it the decision would be reviewed on August 8.

Ghani stressed that the coronavirus cases in Karachi and Hyderabad were much greater as compared to other parts of the country. Keeping that in mind, it is not feasible to reopen schools, he said.

"The provincial coronavirus task force will meet on August 8 and will decide the way forward," the education minister said.

Sindh had suspended all exams after it imposed a lockdown in the province on July 31, also suspending all in-person education-related activities.