KARACHI: All private and government schools across Sindh have been directed to suspend regular classes from nursery to eighth due to the Covid-19 situation in the province for two weeks (15 days), beginning on April 6. However, the students of these classes and their parents, too, are encouraged to not miss out on learning activities and keep in touch with teachers on WhatsApp, through email, or through once a week visit to the school to collect homework.

This was said in a formal notification issued by the Department of School Education and Literacy here on the instructions of the Sindh Coronavirus Task Force on Sunday.

Just on Saturday, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani had presided over a meeting of the Steering Committee of the Education Department in which all the stakeholders were briefed on the situation.

Saeed Ghani has said that the entire situation was later reviewed at a meeting of the Sindh Coronavirus Task Force held under the chairmanship of the Sindh chief minister on Saturday evening. The decision was taken then. The education minister also said that all these measures have been taken to protect children from the third wave of the coronavirus.

‘A teacher cannot give his or her full attention to students through online teaching’

Still, the decision has not gone down well with the private school associations. Many called the education department “an enemy of education”.

One school owner, Mohammad Ali, asked if the steering committee meeting before the CM’s meeting had been called to play a joke on them.

Nida Aizaz, another school owner, wondered how they are going to pay for the salaries of teachers and staff with rent of their premises. “Because, the moment we switch to online or virtual classes, the parents stop paying school fees. They only believe in physical classes,” she said.

Syed Haider Ali, chairman of the All Private Schools and Colleges Association, has outrightly rejected the government notification. “Why close schools when there is not even a complete lockdown? And online classes have failed all over the world. A teacher cannot give his or her full attention to students through online teaching,” he said.

“And such a decision during the final days of the academic year is devastating. Already there are 20 million out-of-school children here and we will be adding another million to that number with this wonderful decision of ours!”

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2021

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