Forum of education ministers also opposes winter break in view of earlier closures of educational institutions
A meeting of provincial education ministers, led by federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood, on Thursday decided against any closure of schools and colleges amidst the ongoing second wave of the novel coronavirus, claiming the positivity rate in educational institutions was within acceptable limits.
The Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference reviewed the COVID-19 situation of the country, with all provinces sharing data from random testing of educational institutions within their jurisdictions. According to a press release issued by the Education Ministry, the forum unanimously ruled out closure of educational institutions under the present situation.
“It was agreed that the targeted closure of institutions where the infection rate increases would be carried out with the help of local administration,” it said, adding strict compliance should be ensured with COVID-related standard operating procedures (SOPs) to curb the spread of the pandemic.
The forum also opposed winter vacations, with the participants recommending that any region that required such a break limit it to a few days so students could cover all their coursework.
The academic year for 2020 has already been reduced to around 11 weeks due to the closures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, read the statement, adding that in this scenario there was no need for long vacations.
According to the press release, the federal education minister has also sought proposals from all provinces for a uniform academic calendar nationwide, with the potential to move the academic year from April to August in the coming year.
“Just got done with the meeting of all Education Ministers of Pakistan. Schools in Punjab will remain OPEN and run on the current schedule. All other news is FAKE NEWS,” posted Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas on Twitter. “COVID-19 situation is under control as of now. Please follow SOPs issued by School Education Department Punjab,” he added.
The next meeting of the inter-provincial education ministers has been scheduled for December 2020.