In a meeting on Monday, the country’s education ministers agreed to reopen educational institutions in the country in phases from 18 January.
After the meeting, Federal Minister of Education Shafqat Mahmood, addressing a press conference in Islamabad, said that in the first process, classes nine to 12 will be allowed to resume from 18 January.
He said that on Jan 25, classes one through eight will start in the next process. From Feb 1, he said, all higher educational institutions will resume.
Schedule of reopening:
- Jan 18: Classes 9 to 12 to resume
- Jan 25: Classes 1 to 8 to resume
- Feb 1: Higher educational institutions to resume
The Minister of Education said that after the winter holidays were over, teachers and administrative workers would be able to return to schools from Jan 11 onwards. As of Jan 11, online learning can also be resumed, he added.
Mahmood said that the board exams to be conducted in March and April were delayed to May and June because “the children have not completed their coursework and we want to give them time [to prepare].” in preparation for the decisions made during the conference.
He added that to “see if the trajectory is under control” the government will review the health situation again on January 14 or 15.
Meanwhile, Dr Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Health, who spoke before Mahmood at a press conference, warned that further measures were needed to monitor the spread of Covid-19.
“When we looked at data and analysed it, it became clear that we need to take some more precautions and delay [reopening] so that the second wave can be reduced before we reopen,” he stated.
He said that evidence revealed that the recent closure of educational facilities had led to a “delay in [the spread of] the virus”
In a tweet, Dr Murad Raas, the Punjab Minister for School Education, said that classes in the province will resume according to the schedule announced by Mahmood.
On alternating days, both institutions will have 50 % of students as before, he said.
Raas called the 50 percent enrollment policy “the most important thing” in a separate press conference, saying that schools were opened “not because the coronavirus situation [had improved] but because the children were incurring huge educational losses”
In answer to a comment, he said board examinations will take place in June. Study on determining examination centres will begin from now on, he said.
He said that 50pc of their tasks must count in deciding their final grades, talking about the advancement of students to higher levels. “Children will not be promoted without exams,” he said.
In November last year, after the country saw an unprecedented surge in cases and deaths during the second wave of the coronavirus, the government agreed to close educational institutions. Mahmood had said that a consultation session would be held in the first week of January and would be resumed on January 11 if the situation had changed by then.
An officer of the Ministry of Education had previously told Dharti News that a final decision on “whether educational institutions should be reopened on Jan 11 or vacations extended till the end of the month will be taken in [today’s] meeting after getting input from the health ministry on the current status of Covid-19”
He said the federal education minister will take little time to prolong the holidays, irrespective of what the private school owners claim, if the health ministry advised on extending vacations.
Since Jan 11, the school owners have been seeking the reopening of classes.
“Health of students and teachers is important to us. We cannot recommend opening of schools on the pressure of school owners. How can we put the health of children at risk for the sake of the private school owners? Therefore, let me be clear, we will take a decision in the light of the health ministry’s recommendations,” the officer said.
Due to Covid-19, educational institutions had a months-long closing in 2020. Owing to the constant increase in coronavirus cases, they were shutdown in March and then reopened in September only to be shut down again the next month.