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March 17, 2020

New academic year of schools across Sindh to start on June 1


March 17, 2020

The new academic year of schools across Sindh will start on June 1 and the examinations of educational institutions of primary, elementary and middle levels will begin on the same day.

These decisions were taken on Monday during a meeting of the relevant steering committee, which was headed by Education Minister Saeed Ghani and attended by other stakeholders, including associations of private schools.

The meeting also decided that the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Annual Examinations 2020 will start on June 15, while the Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) Annual Examinations 2020 will start on July 1.

The HSSC exams will be held in the evening shift to ensure that the academic activities remain undisturbed at the schools to be used as examination centres.

In compliance with court orders, the administrations of private schools can collect monthly fees from parents, but the owners of such institutions have been barred from demanding advance fees of two or three months. However, parents are bound to pay fees of 12 months.

The steering committee’s decisions come in the wake of the rising cases of coronavirus across the province. The meeting agreed that if the situation were to worsen, the current academic schedule would be revised.

Held at the Sindh Assembly’s committee room, the meeting was attended by all the stakeholders, including representatives of private schools, educational boards, secretaries, directors and education officers.

The education minister told the meeting that after ordering the closure of educational institutions late last month, his department had decided to reopen them on March 16.

The situation, however, changed after new cases of corona — named COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation — emerged, especially when a patient having no travel history tested positive for the virus.

This is why the recent meeting of the relevant task force of the Sindh cabinet had decided to extend holidays of students and keep their educational institutions closed until the end of May. These holidays will be counted as their summer break.

No promotions

Addressing a news conference after the meeting, Ghani said that there is no truth in the rumours claiming that students of the primary, elementary and middle schools will be promoted to the next grade on the basis of their midterm examinations without having to take their final exams.

After consultation with associations of private schools, the steering committee made it clear that examinations of children studying in pre-matriculation grades will indeed be conducted. The exams will start on June 1 and their results will be announced on June 15.

The SSC annual examinations will be held from June 15 to June 30 and their results will be declared on August 15.

Provisional admissions in colleges, which will start on August 1, will be awarded on the basis of ninth grade results.

The HSSC annual exams will be held from July 1 to July 15 and the results of intermediate part-II will be announced on September 15. The education minister said his department is keeping in touch with the federal government and the administrations of the boards conducting O level and A level examinations. Hopefully, he added, they will cooperate with the provincial government in rescheduling the exam dates.

He said parents are bound to pay fees of only 12 months, and private schools cannot collect advance fees after the issue has been settled by the court. Strict action will be taken against the schools demanding fees of two months or three months in advance, he added.

By keeping educational institutions closed, the government aims to protect thousands of children from the outbreak of coronavirus. The authorities expect the cooperation of parents, political parties, school associations and other stakeholders.

Responding to a question, Ghani said provincial governments have completely authority to develop curricula for schools after the passage of the 18th amendment. However, if the Centre makes some recommendations to introduce a uniform curriculum across the country, Sindh will consider them, but accept no dictation.

AKU-EB, ZUEB exams

To curtail the spread of COVID-19, the Aga Khan University Examination Board (AKU-EB) has postponed their exams while the Ziauddin University Examination Board (ZUEB) plans to do so after the Sindh government’s decision to suspend all educational and exam-related activities.

The AKU-EB notification states that in the light of this development their annual examinations, which were scheduled from March 30 to May 7, have been postponed and will be held in June. The new timetable will be announced soon.

ZUEB Chairman Anwar Ahmedzai told The News that they are yet to officially decide on suspending their SSC examinations scheduled to begin on April 10 and the HSSC exams that were to start on June 11.

However, a high-level meeting of the board officials has been called on Wednesday (tomorrow) to discuss the new schedule. “The board will accept the provincial government’s decision and the exams will be rescheduled in our meeting.”

Meanwhile, the Higher Education Commission has suspended the walk-in mode of degree attestation at their head office in Islamabad and all the regional centres starting March 17 until further orders.

Two principals arrested

For violating the Sindh government’s order to keep all educational institutes closed, the Malir District’s police arrested two principals and registered FIRs against the owners of three privately managed schools on Monday.

The police registered separate FIRs against the owner of the Sufa Grammar High School, Karachi Grammar Public School and Islamia Public School under section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code, and the principals of the Karachi Grammar Public School and Islamia Public School were apprehended. The police received complaints against the administration of the schools as they were found functional, according to a press release issued by the Sindh police.

The Sindh government had strictly ordered to keep all educational institutes closed until May 30. The Directorate of Inspection and Registration of Private Institutions Sindh (Dirpis) had also formed inspection teams for the implementation of the order. Since the start of March, the Dirpis had suspended the registration of around 90 schools across the province.