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September 23, 2020

Middle schools in Sindh to reopen on September 28, says Saeed Ghani

Karachi

September 23, 2020

Sindh Education & Literacy Minister Saeed Ghani on Tuesday announced that middle schools in the province will reopen on September 28 so that classes for grades six to eight can resume.

On September 18, the School Education & Literacy Department had notified that the department had decided with the approval of the education minister to postpone the date of reopening middle schools by a week.

The next day, a bickering of sorts emerged between the provincial and federal education ministers after the former’s decision not to reopen pre-primary, primary and middle schools following a 2.4 per cent spike in COVID-19 cases in Sindh, while the latter insisted on sticking with the original schedule.

Announcing his decision on September 19, Ghani had said that the coronavirus scenario in the province was scary, and that they could not threaten the lives of children. “We have informed the federal education minister and other provincial ministers, but due to the emergent situation, the scenario regarding the coronavirus pandemic is bad. We can’t wait for the NCOC [National Command Operation Centre] meeting.”

However, Federal Minister for Education & Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood was adamant that the decision to reopen middle schools on September 21 that was taken in the inter-provincial meeting of education ministers would be implemented.

On Tuesday, a statement issued by Ghani’s media coordinator read that all public and private middle schools across the province would resume classes on September 28. The statement said that the decision to postpone their reopening for a week was taken on the basis of a significant number of teachers and non-teaching staff members testing positive for the virus.

Now that the schools are being allowed to reopen, their respective administrations must comply with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) devised in view of COVID-19 so that children’s safety could be ensured, added the statement.

However, private school associations are not happy with the delay in the reopening of schools. Their alliance under the National Action Committee held a demonstration against Ghani in front of the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday.

The protesters demanded that all the schools be reopened in accordance with the schedule that was decided during the meeting of the NCOC in Islamabad and announced earlier this month.

On Monday, the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation (APPSF) had also held a demonstration in front of the press club to make the same demand. APPSF Sindh chief Muhammad Akhtar Arain said they would start a protest campaign on Tuesday and continue it until the provincial government reviews its decision of keeping primary and middle schools closed.

“All constituent organisations of the APPSF will participate in the protest. When the NCOC made the decision to reopen schools, the Sindh government had also agreed, but now the provincial government is creating hurdles for private school owners.”

He said Ghani had lauded the efforts of private schools to comply with the SOPs. He accused the minister of not being sincere about the cause of education.

He also said that most of the teachers who had tested positive for COVID-19 were associated with public schools, but Ghani was giving the impression that private school teachers had been infected.