ISLAMABAD: The educational institutions in the country would reopen from September 15, it was decided in a meeting of all the education ministers held today.
Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood chaired the meeting which finalised that the schools and universities will resume classes from next month and action will be taken against those who violate the decision.
The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had proposed to reopen the educational institutions from September 1, which was opposed by all the participants, a spokesperson of Sindh education minister said.
The government had announced in July to resume educational activities in the country from September after reviewing the coronavirus situation.
Shafqat Mahmood had then said that the decision has been taken to allow schools to call its administration staff before September 15 and announced that trainings will be conducted to ensure that SOPs are implemented.
He said that provinces will be responsible for ensuring SOPs that are followed, cautioning schools to follow the procedures laid out by the government. “It is my request to private schools, especially, that the SOPs that you will have to follow will be the ones made by the government,” he said.
Earlier today, Punjab Education Minister Dr Murad Raas had rejected reports of the government reopening schools in the province from August 15, saying that it will happen only if the coronavirus conditions are “manageable”.
“FAKE NEWS. No date has been announced for opening of Schools in Punjab. What I have said is that if the conditions of COVID 19 are manageable, only then we will try to open by August 15, 20 under very strict SOPs. I will not endanger the lives of our children or our teachers,” Raas had said in a post on Twitter.
Raas had said the School Education Department (SED) Punjab had prepared detailed SOPs so that once schools reopened, the same could be followed to protect the children.
The minister had said that if they were opened, schools would function in different shifts to ensure physical distancing among the students in classrooms.
‘Private schools to open from August 15’
Meanwhile, two private school associations on Tuesday announced the reopening of schools on August 15, with a policy to maintain SOPs to prevent the coronavirus spread.
In separate press conferences, the Private Schools Action Committee (PSAC) and the All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association (APPSMA) maintained that a further closure of the educational institutions would push the teachers and other staffers towards serious crisis.
PSAC leader Pervez Haroon said the COVID-19 situation was getting better in Pakistan as “according to a Gallup survey 74 per cent of parents want to send their children to school”.
Haroon said schools had incurred losses due to a prolonged closure and “the industry couldn’t tolerate it anymore”.
He said a committee had prepared 31 SOPs that would be maintained to reopen the schools. He said the decision was taken at a conference of the private schools’ bodies in Islamabad on July 20 as “neither the federal nor the provincial government paid any heed to the concerns of the schools”.
Separately, APPSMA leader Syed Tariq Shah demanded of the government to waive all taxes on the education industry and “provide schools with easy loans to help recover the losses incurred during the lockdown”.
Shah asked the government to issue a notification for the reopening of the educational institutions from August 15, “respecting the decision of the private schools’ associations”.