KARACHI: As several children attended school on a cold January morning, many also missed school due to the confusion amid parents about whether schools were open or closed on Wednesday due to the extreme weather conditions.
There were also those who despite knowing that their children’s schools were open decided to not send them out in the harsh weather.
“I looked at my son’s school uniform sweater and I knew it was not enough to shield him from the cold. I was feeling cold myself despite wearing a thick cardigan myself. I just didn’t have the heart to send my child in such harsh weather so I let him stay back,” said the mother of a student of class four in PECHS.
“I weighed both odds. If I sent me daughter to school in this weather, there are chances that she may catch a cold or worse. Then she will miss even more days so I thought to not send her to school till the weather improved,” said the mother of a secondary school student.
The provincial government had earlier announced that all the public and private educational institutes across Sindh would observe winter holidays according to the already set schedule decided by the steering committee, which was from Dec 20 to Jan 1.
But in view of the persisting cold weather the various school associations had approached Ahsan Ali Mangi, the secretary of School Education and Literacy Department, seeking an extension to the winter vacations. They had before them the example of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the departments for schools education had extended winter vacations till Jan 7 owing to severe weather.
Syed Haider Ali, chairman of the All Sindh Private Schools and Colleges Association, said that he had requested for an extension till Jan 5. He also suggested starting morning school slightly later than usual as it is extra cold early in the morning. “Perhaps morning school could start at 8.30am to close at 1.30pm in the winter time, and the afternoon school shifts could be from 1pm to 4.30pm,” he said.
Sharaf uz Zaman of the Private Schools Management Association said that the government should itself be sensitive to the weather issue which it is not, sadly. “It is not just Karachi that is freezing, Sukkur, Ghotki, Khairpur and Kashmore are also experiencing severe cold weather right now, and in many schools there children have to sit on the cold floor to study,” he said.
“We kept our schools open on Wednesday according to the wishes of the Secretary Education. Meanwhile, there are certain elitist private schools that remained closed and we also know that the government will not take any action against them either. Had we done that, we would have been accused of challenging the writ of the government. So we just kept our students indoors with classroom doors and windows shut as attendance remained not more that two per cent,” he said. “We also tolerated the anger of the parents and wish the government too would reconsider its decision.”
The requests, however, were denied. That was when, in the absence of any favourable notification from the minister for education and literacy, many school associations announced an extension in school holidays till Jan 6.
Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2020