The Grand Alliance of Private Schools Association (Gapsa) has demanded that the Sindh School Education & Literacy Department start the new academic session on August 2, in accordance with the decision taken during the last meeting of the department’s steering committee.
In its charter of demands, Gapsa has suggested that the Provincial Task Force on Covid-19 allow reopening schools with 50 per cent attendance. It also called for proper representation of the stakeholders in the task force.
Gapsa claimed that private schools have been strictly complying with the Covid-19 standard operating procedures, and that 95 per cent of the institutions have gotten their teaching and non-teaching staff vaccinated. Schools should therefore be declared safe places, it suggested.
Gapsa pointed out that a majority of private schools have been facing a severe financial crunch due to the pandemic and lockdowns. So, it said, this is why the institutions expect the provincial government to exempt them from all taxes so that the private education sector can play its role in bringing out-of-school children to schools.
Likewise, said Gapsa, the directorate of private schools must ensure that parents regularly pay their children’s fees so that the institutions’ owners can pay their employees on time. The government should also compensate private schools by paying off 50 per cent of their rent, it added.
After the Sindh government recently announced its decision to close the schools and colleges, Gapsa Convener Aleem Qureshi demanded on Saturday that the provincial government 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 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. 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.
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