Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood said on Friday that the final decision on reopening of educational institutions would be taken in the January 4 meeting. Talking to media after a meeting with private schools’ representatives, Mahmood said it was unclear whether schools would be allowed reopen on January 11, 2021 as planned considering the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
He said the Education Ministry would consult with the Health Department in the upcoming meeting before deciding on the matter. ‘The final decision would be made on the advice of the health ministry as this is fundamentally their domain. We cannot risk children’s health,’ he said. He added that the decision would be taken after reviewing current coronavirus situation and the new highly contagious strain.
Talking about the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the education sector, Mahmood said it suffered a loss by remaining closed from March 2020 through September 2020. “We had to close down again in November 2020. But we also adapted innovative approach and introduced the concept of online classes. Within 15 days we introduced television school and now we are about to launch radio schooling while universities have moved to online classes, said the education minister.
Both Sindh and Punjab education ministers had earlier said that it was unlikely that schools would be reopened in January due to the second wave of coronavirus infections. Talking about the education sector’s goals for 2021, Mahmood said the PTI government was looking to implement Single National Curriculum. ‘It would be applied in all schools both private and public. It is a huge step in ensuring equality.”
The minister added that the government also aimed to increase allocation for university-level education in the upcoming budget. Meanwhile, the private schools have termed the minister’s statement unfortunate. It may be noted here that private schools associations and councils across the country have opposed keeping schools shut.