ISLAMABAD: On Thursday, the federal and provincial education ministers agreed not to close educational institutions in the country as the coronavirus prevalence remained “scarcely one to two percent” in the institutions.
The Inter-Provincial Ministers of Education Conference (IPEMC), chaired by Federal Minister of Education Shafqat Mahmood via video link, discussed the current situation of Covid-19 in the country, especially in educational institutions.
National Health Services Director General Dr Safi Malik gave a comprehensive presentation to the forum on the current Covid-19 situation in the region, according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education. In schools and universities, the provinces exchanged details of the positivity rate of virus cases ranging from one to two per cent scarcely, “thus the forum was pleased with the controlled situation in educational institutions,” the spokesperson added.
A press release released by the Ministry of Education after the meeting claimed that, taking into account the overall situation, the closing of educational institutions was unanimously ruled out by the forum.
The Conference of Ministers rejects long winter vacations; Shafqat seeks regional plans for a standardised academic calendar
“It was decided that with the assistance of local government, the targeted closing of establishments where the infection rate rises will be carried out,” it added, adding that the forum rejected long winter vacations and suggested that either no vacations should take place or that they should be restricted to a few days so that students could cover their classes.
It is important to note that before Covid-19, the normal academic year was 32 weeks, which has now been shortened to just 11 weeks. So for long holidays, there is no justification, the statement said.
With respect to the agenda item of the shifting academic year from April to August, the Federal Minister of Education requested recommendations from all the provinces for a common academic calendar around the country over the next 15 days. Taking into account the lack of students due to Covid-19 during the six-month closure of the campuses, Mr. Mahmood demanded recommendations to shift the academic year from April to August, at least for the current academic year.
He asked the provinces to ensure full conformity with the operating procedures (SOPs) of Covid-related requirements in educational institutions.
According to the press release, on Friday (today), the Federal Minister of Education will brief the National Command and Operation Centre on the decisions taken by the IPEMC.
After six months of closure in September, the educational institutions around the country were reopened; nevertheless, the forum addressed the issue due to the revival of Covid-19, but agreed not to shut the institutions.
Published in Dharti News, November 6th, 2020