Sunday September 26, 2021

Private school associations reject decision to shut educational institutions

Private school associations reject decision to shut educational institutions

Rejecting the Sindh government’s decision to keep the schools and colleges closed in the province from Monday, July 26 in view of the rising Covid-19 cases in the province, associations of private schools have decided to convene on Monday to announce their future course of action.

In a high-level meeting on Friday, the provincial government decided to have the schools and colleges in Sindh closed from July 26 onwards, but to continue with the annual board examinations as per the schedule already issued by the respective educational boards.

However, the Sindh convener of the Grand Alliance of private school associations, Aleem Qureshi, said the provincial government should announce a clear and unequivocal policy regarding educational institutions because schools and universities were supposed to start new academic sessions in August.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the academic year is being affected for the third consecutive year. The Provincial Task Force on Covid-19 should consult stakeholders instead of making unilateral decisions,” he said.

He suggested that the task force consider Punjab-style summer vacations till July 31 to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Closing the schools and colleges, according to him, was not the solution as it was the time for new admissions.

Qureshi pointed out that as 80 per cent of the staffers of the private schools had been vaccinated, the risk of Covid-19 spread due to schools was very low. He maintained that the private schools had been strictly following the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Closing educational institutes would increase the number of out-of-school children in Sindh, which had increased from 4 million to 6 million during the last two years, he remarked.

He said that an emergency meeting of all provincial private schools associations would be held on July 26 to discuss the future action plan. “In Sindh, as many as 3,000 schools have been closed and 200,000 people have lost their jobs. Everyone acknowledges that SOPs are implemented in educational institutions.”

He asked if shops and factories could remain open for 12 and 24 hours, why the authorities were interested in the closure of educational institutions. When no other sector had been closed, they could not let the schools be closed, he said.

The abilities of reading and writing in the children of primary schools and the subject knowledge in middle students had been badly affected due to the closure of educational institutions. Likewise, the university students were not able to complete their credit hours, he said.