The All Private Schools Management Association Sindh (APSMAS) voiced its concern over the Sindh government’s announcement of Friday about an extension of the closure of educational institutions in the province. In view of the ongoing surge in Covid-19 positive cases, the government announced that the educational institutions would stay closed in the province till August 30.
In a statement issued by the information department, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said schools would not be reopened on August 23, and teachers, staff and parents should be vaccinated during this week.
“It has been decided to reopen universities, colleges and schools after 10 days. They would be opened on August 30,” he said. Later, in an emergency meeting chaired by APSMAS Chairman Syed Tariq Shah expressed concerns over the announcement.
In a statement, “If the government does not restore education on August 23, the private education sector would shift the education system to outdoor schooling. Today, the APSMAS is announcing a Taleem Bachao Tehreek (Movement to Rescue Education) across the province.”
The statement reads, “Educational institutions are functioning all over the country, apart from Sindh. Why are only the children of Sindh deprived of education?” the APSMAS leaders asked.
They demanded that those schools whose 100 per cent staffers, including teachers, had got Covid vaccination should be allowed to reopen on August 23 as per the decision taken in a meeting of the School Education and Literacy Department’s Steering Committee earlier this week.
In the meeting, the health minister had also given permission to open schools on August 23, it said, adding that educational institutions should open with 50 per cent attendance, 100 per cent vaccination, and strict compliance with the Covid-19 standard operating procedures.
During the meeting, the members had also discussed the dropout ratio. It was revealed that around 600,000 children had dropped out of government schools during the lockdown. Private schools have completed 95 per cent vaccination of their staffers, while this ratio is about 80 per cent for public schools.
One million new children have not been able to attend school for the past two years, and the provincial government is continuously disrupting education for the third consecutive year, said the APSMAS leaders. “We want immediate reopening of schools.”
The Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) Sindh leadership has also opposed the provincial government’s move of extending the closure of schools.
Commenting on the government’s decision, Muhammad Azeem Siddiqui, the head of the JI Sindh education chapter, said that the provincial government had made education a joke and it had no regard for the views of teachers, students and parents.
“At the meeting of the steering committee on August 17, the provincial education ministry announced the reopening of the schools, but the non-issuance of a notification at that time was proof that the government was cheating the school owners,” he said.
Siddiqui recalled that on August 17, the health minister had no objection to the reopening of schools. He added that just three days later, “coronavirus's ghost has taken over again.” The JI leader said that the Sindh government had first shut down the schools on the pretext that teachers had not been vaccinated. “And now it is again closing them down by imposing a condition that parents should be vaccinated.” He added that online education was not an alternative to learning in schools.
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