Education ministers oppose opening schools on June 1

Published May 7, 2020
National Coordination Committee will take up the matter today. — Dawn/File
National Coordination Committee will take up the matter today. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: Federal and provincialeducation ministers on Wednesday recommended extending the closure of educational institutions beyond May 31 in view of the surge in Covid-19 cases across the country.

They said that opening educational institutions on June 1 could lead to coronavirus spreading among students.

The interprovincial education ministers online video conference chaired by Minister for Federal Education Shafqat Mahmood discussed the opening of educational institutions on June 1.

The meeting, however, referred the matter to the National Coordination Committee (NCC), which will take it up today (Thursday).

“Today, we discussed various proposals regarding the opening of institutions. The majority of the participants were of the view that the closure should be extended. Now the final decision will be taken up by NCC on Thursday,” Mr Mahmood told Dawn.

National Coordination Committee will take up the matter today

He said participants of the meeting also hailed the outcome of the Tele School project. The minister said efforts are afoot to make the Tele School, which was initially a three month project- a regular feature to bring improvementsto the education sector.

Mr Mahmood said his ministry was also planning to launch a regional channel at a later stage to promote education in regional languages.

“Through technology we can overcome the challenge of out-of-school children and we can also improve the national literacy rate,” he said.

The online meeting of ministers was also attended by the education secretary and other senior ministry officers.

Sources said that other than Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, provincial ministers strongly recommendedthat educational institutions remain closed until the situation normalises.

The ministers said Covid-19 could spread drastically among students if schools are opened on June 1. Sources said that during the meeting it was decided that matter should be referred to National Coordination Committee (NCC), which will make the final decision on opening of schools and colleges.

“The final decision about opening of educational institutions will be taken by NCC. Keeping today’s discussions of education ministers in view and the current cases of Covid-19 in the country, I do not think educational institutions will be reopened on June 1,” a ministry officerwho attended the video conference said.

The officer said ministers offered different proposals during the meeting. The KP minister and his staffed argued that educational institutions should be opened as soon as possible after taking preventive measures in the greater interest of students.

The participants of the meeting also discussed the outcomeof TeleSchool programme and showed their satisfaction, but stressed the need for further improvement.

The government decided to close all educational institutions across the country - including schools, colleges and universities - in the second week of March until May 31.

Now, sources in the education ministry saidthat institutions will likely remain closed for the summer, but a final decision has to be taken by the NCC.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2020

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