KARACHI: Many private schools’ associations of Sindh called a joint press conference to discuss the prevailing situation regarding the closure of schools here at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday.

They said that everything and everyone had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the biggest drawbacks and losses were being suffered by the education sector.

“The closing of schools again and again has been a big blow to us,” said Tariq Shah, central chairman, All Private Schools Management Association-Sindh.

Quoting World Bank estimates, he said one million of the total schoolchildren whose education was disturbed due to Covid-19 last year didn’t return to their schools even after they reopened.

School owners ask govt to check social and political events and give priority to education

“And those children who did come back eventually are still trying to catch up. Then the thousands of closed schools over the extended period also resulted in joblessness of millions of teachers,” he said.

“Parents and students suffered, too, along with all those who work in the education sector or are doing any education-related work. The past four days have had us hearing about what the government wants to do in these trying times. You should also hear from us the school owners what we think should be done,” he said.

“We also said this during the steering committee’s meeting on Saturday that the closing of schools was no solution. And also that when transport, parks, malls, restaurants, movie theatres are carrying on as usual, then why can’t schools also be allowed to function? We are also seeing social and political gatherings taking place,” he said.

“Then why close schools? In fact, closing schools should be the last thing on anyone’s mind. If the coronavirus situation worsens then we suggest considering the school closures as early summer vacations,” he suggested.

“All over the world, online education has been unable to match physical classes. It is just not the same thing. And in our country we are also lacking in facilities to make online classes available for all,” he said before making certain demands.

Vaccination for schoolteachers demanded

“The two-week closure of schools for classes eight and under should end immediately as the pandemic situation in Sindh is far better than the rest of the country. But here we were now hearing that the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) wants to close schools till April 28,” he said.

The private schools’ associations also demanded that the government and private schoolteachers be inoculated with the coronavirus vaccine.

They also demanded that the Cambridge International Board in Pakistan be asked to push ahead their exam schedules.

They asked also for checks on social and political events and for priority to be given to education.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2021

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