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Private school associations object to closure decision till May 23

Reacting to the recent decision taken by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to extend the closure of educational institutes till May 23, the private school associations of Sindh have said the authorities have taken a discriminative decision against the schools by keeping them closed as other sectors would be opened on May 17 after the Eid holidays.

All Private Schools Management Association Chairman Syed Tariq Shah said the association would not have criticised the government if it had intended to extend the lockdown by keeping all the sectors, including the schools, closed. However, when other sectors were allowed to operate after Eid, it was injustice to the private education sector to force them to shut the schools, he maintained.

He said the school owners were thoroughly implementing the Covid-19 SOPs while many other sectors did not care about them, and so targeting the schools only would not serve the cause. “The lockdown in the larger interest of students and nation is acceptable to us in case all the sectors remain closed. Else, the decision is biased and discriminative against the schools. Even all the private school associations have assured the provincial government and the federal government that they will strictly follow the SOPs.”

He said schools were the places where teachers could assist the government by creating awareness among the students about the precautions and SOPs during the pandemic. The rest of the sectors such as factories, markets, transport, and others did not have any organised workforce that could play a role in spreading awareness among workers and the general public, he added.

He said the private education sector was already facing difficulties and if they were forced to remain close, many of them would have to end their operations. The school owners were not receiving any financial assistance from the government and as a result of permanent closure of private schools, the number of out-of-school children would be increased in Pakistan, which already had the second-largest population of the out-of-school children in the world, he maintained.

“We have to complete the ongoing session while exams would be held in the next two or three months. Therefore, the committee should also consider the best interest of students and parents,” he said.

Among other associations that have opposed the recent NCOC decision include the All Sindh Private Schools and Colleges Association, Peak Private School Association, Private Schools Management Association, Alliance of Private Schools Sindh, Association of Private Schools Sind, Pakistan Academic Consortium, Hadeed Private Schools Association, Karachi Private Schools Federation and Friends Private Schools Association.