Shafqat’s advice to universities

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FEDERAL Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood has called for universities that have chosen to remain closed to “reconsider” their decision. The Minister said that “online lessons, however good, are no substitute for on campus classes”.
The advice of the Minister came as schools and colleges have reopened to resume their normal teaching practices. What Shafqat Mehmood has said is a reality as there is no substitute to direct interaction between teachers and students and long closure of educational institutions have had a negative impact on the overall process of learning, which is already not satisfying if compared in quality with other countries. It is also a fact that not all schools, colleges and universities were able to impart online lessons/lectures to the students due to technological and financial reasons. And thousands of families have no gadgets, connectivity and financial resources to benefit from online teaching even if all institutions have the capability to do so. However, despite all, we should not forget that Covid-19 situation is still precarious and the virus is spreading with the passage of every day. It is next to impossible for students to follow the SOPs strictly and interaction of students and teachers might lead to an increase in the cases of infection. Therefore, there is no harm if some universities, which feel confident that they can impart education online in a perfect manner, decide not to reopen for the sake of safety of students, teachers and other staff members. The Government’s decision to reopen educational institutions was not taken on the basis of ground situation, which is still worse but under intense pressure from the private sector. In the prevailing circumstances, the Government might have to reconsider its decision of reopening if the situation deteriorates further. Let universities take independent decisions.