ISLAMABAD: Federal and provincial education ministers on Thursday decided not to close educational institutions in the country as positivity rate of coronavirus in the institutions remains “scarcely one to two per cent”.
The Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC), held under the chairmanship of federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood through video link, discussed the existing Covid-19 situation in the country, particularly in educational institutions.
According to a spokesperson for the education ministry, National Health Services Director General Dr Safi Malik gave a detailed presentation to the forum on the current Covid-19 situation in the country. The provinces shared data of positivity rate of virus cases in schools and colleges which ranged between one and two per cent scarcely, “hence the forum was satisfied with the controlled situation in educational institutions,” the spokesperson said.
A press release issued by the education ministry after the meeting said that keeping in view the overall situation, the forum unanimously ruled out closure of educational institutions.
Ministers’ conference opposes long winter vacations; Shafqat seeks proposals from provinces about uniform academic calendar
“It was agreed that the targeted closure of institutions where the infection rate increases would be carried out with the help of local administration,” it said, adding that the forum opposed long winter vacations and recommended that there should be either no vacations or these be limited to a few days so that students could cover their courses.
It is pertinent to mention that regular academic year before Covid-19 was of 32 weeks which has now been reduced to 11 weeks only. So there is no rationale for long vacations, the statement said.
About the agenda item of moving academic year from April to August, the federal education minister sought proposals from all the provinces in the next 15 days about a uniform academic calendar across the country. Keeping in view the loss of students during the six-month closure of schools due to Covid-19, Mr Mahmood asked for proposals about moving academic year from April to August, at least for the current academic year.
He asked the provinces to ensure strict compliance with the Covid-related standards operating procedures (SOPs) in educational institutions.
According to the press release, the federal education minister will brief the National Command and Operation Centre on Friday (today) on the decisions taken by the IPEMC.
The educational institutions across the country were reopened in September after six months’ closure; however, due to resurgence of Covid-19, the forum discussed the issue but decided not to close the institutions.
Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2020