ISLAMABAD: The education ministry will plead for early and extended winter vacation during the provincial ministers’ meeting on Monday (Nov 23).

Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood will chair the meeting which will make a final decision.

The officials of the education ministry said 23 countries have still kept their schools closed due to rise in the number of Covid-19 cases.

The situation in Pakistan is also alarming, therefore, closure of educational institutions is imperative, they said.

Sources said the education ministry will seek winter vacation for at least 37 days starting from Nov 24 till Jan 31.

They said during the vacation, online classes would be conducted along with Tele School, e-Taleem and Radio School.

“However a final decision will be taken through consensus,” said a ministry official.

He was confident that the proposal for early and extended vacation would be accepted by the provincial ministers.

He said Plan B will also be presented in the meeting, under which students of certain classes will not attend schools.

He said under this plan, primary grade students would stop coming to schools from Nov 24, considerably reducing the load on institutions.

Later, from Dec 2, middle grade students would stop coming to schools, subject to Covid situation at that time. This step will reduce movement of six million students.

Finally, from Dec 15, senior students would go on holiday. This plan will be reviewed and a decision to partially or completely close institutions would be taken in view of Covid situation, he said.

He said National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) had already urged the education ministers for closure of schools from Nov 20 to Jan 31.

He said across the country many educational institutions have faced closure because of positive cases and in Islamabad over 130 schools have been closed.

The officer said the positivity ratio of virus in educational institutions through random testing is almost two percent, which is alarming, as students could become a source to spread virus in their families.

Academic and exam scheduling

The education ministry’s proposal said that current academic session should be extended till May 31. It said that exams date for Grade 1-8 will be June 1 to 10 while Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) exams should be held in July.

The proposal said that new academic session should start from Sept 2021 instead of April.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2020

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