KARACHI: Participants in a meeting of the Sindh government steering committee on education chaired by Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani on Tuesday approved the recommendations of its sub-committee to promote students of class nine to class 12 to the next levels without examinations.

It was also said that the teaching process in public and private educational institutions across Sindh would only start after considering the Covid-19 pandemic situation in the province.

However, if private schools want, they can start online classes and call in teachers and non-teaching staff for the purpose. Still, they would have to fully comply with the standard operating procedures issued by the department of health and the World Health Organisation.

The sub-committee of the steering committee had been formed to look into the concerns raised by private schools over the promotion of students in grades one to eight, and formulating a plan for the next academic year.

It is going to compile and submit its proposals for comprehensive implementation of all SOPs within a week.

Parents asked to pay school fee to facilitate payment of teachers’ salaries

The meeting was attended by Sindh education secretary Syed Khalid Haider Shah, secretary of colleges of Sindh Baqir Naqvi, secretary of universities Mohammad Riaz-ud-Din and steering committee members Tanzeela Umme Habiba, Rabia Azfar Nizami, educationist Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Dr Fauzia, the chairmen of all boards and all private schools associations and others.

The minutes of the last meeting were read out and its approval was sought because the recommendations of the sub-committee had been made by the steering committee in the last meeting alone.

On this occasion, the members of the steering committee expressed some reservations, after which it was decided that students who fail in two papers will be given ‘grace marks’ in view of their marks in other subjects. However, more subjects will be given only 33 per cent passing marks if the children have failed them.

It was explained that the students who wanted to take the exams for improvement in marks will be given two options: either accept three per cent extra marks or take an exam although no date has been set for it as it is not possible in the current coronavirus situation.

Another committee formed

Some private schools at the meeting also raised their concerns over the promotion of children of classes one to eight following which the provincial minister constituted another seven-member steering committee comprising members of these private schools. The committee will compile its report not only on the issue of promotions in private schools, but also on the new academic year as well as the reopening of schools.

The seven-member committee will also submit a report within a week of compiling it.

Still, it was decided in the meeting that all private schools may start online classes if they wanted to. However, regular teaching will not be allowed and they will not be able to call the children to school although they may call in their teachers and non-teaching staff if they wished to do so but in order to be able to do that they would have to fully implement the SOPs issued to them by the department of health and the WHO. These SOPs were said to be provided to them within a week.

The meeting also decided that the parents should also pay school fees so that teachers of these schools can be paid their salaries.

The education minister said that they are trying their best to ensure that all the steps taken for education in the province are taken under the auspices of the steering committee so that the views of all stakeholders are included in it.

He said that they had taken steps to improve the quality of education in the province and work had also been started for training of teachers. “We have also launched a mobile application for online education for children, and more work is being done with Microsoft and others in this regard,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2020