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Tuesday January 18, 2022

Will schools be closed? Shafqat Mehmood to chair education ministers' meeting to decide

The meeting, due tomorrow, will review the prevalent COVID situation in the country with respect to educational institutes

January 12, 2022
Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood addressing a press conference in this APP file photo.
Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood addressing a press conference in this APP file photo.

A meeting of the provincial education ministers will be held tomorrow to debate whether the prevalent COVID-19 situation in the country warrants the closure of schools.

The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training issued a notification yesterday which states that the 34th meeting of the Provincial Education Minister's Conference (IPEMC) is scheduled to be held at 11am on Thursday, chaired by  Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood, to deliberate on a number of issues.

Will schools be closed? Shafqat Mehmood to chair education ministers meeting to decide

Among these is a review of the prevalent COVID situation in the country with respect to educational institutes.

Other areas of will debate include:

- Inter provincial consultation for timely provision of quality text books in academic year 2022
- Inter provincial coordination regarding timely provision of NOCs for text books
- Any other agenda with the permission of the chair.
- Smart syllabus, and three classes a week.
- Declaring vaccinations mandatory.

The meeting will be held through a video conference.

Yesterday, while briefing the media of the decisions taken by the federal cabinet in its weekly meeting, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said Pakistan would not undergo another lockdown and dismissed reports of the closure of schools despite rising coronavirus cases.

The information minister said the federal cabinet was informed that the COVID-19 positivity ratio had doubled in the country.

"But despite this, it is our resolve that we absolutely not impose a lockdown in Pakistan. Our economy cannot bear the burden [of another lockdown]," he said.

However, a sharp rise in cases continue to be reported by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), with today's tally at 2,074 for cases in the last 24 hours. This is the highest caseload since September 24, 2021 — more than three months ago.

The national positivity ratio has now reached 4.70% and overall infections have jumped past 1.309 million.

Pakistan also registered 13 deaths in the last 24 hours, the highest since December 15, 2021, pushing the death toll to 28,987, NCOC figures showed.

The situation is particularly worrying in Karachi, where in the last 24 hours, the positivity ratio crossed 20%, with the Sindh Health Department mulling over a 14-day "special vaccination programme" in several cities of Sindh.

Worried about Omicron and in view of the alarming rise in cases in the city, parents have demanded that schools be closed to curb the spread of the virus.