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Shafqat Unsure About Reopening Schools On January 11

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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood has said that the final decision on reopening educational institutions would be taken in the January 4 meeting.

Talking to a private news channel on Friday, Shafqat Mahmood said that it is unclear whether schools would be allowed to reopen on January 11, 2021 as planned considering the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He said the education ministry would consult with the health department in the upcoming meeting before deciding on the matter.

“The final decision would be made on the advice of the health ministry as this is fundamentally their domain. We cannot risk children’s health,” he said. He added that the decision would be taken after reviewing the current coronavirus situation and the new highly contagious strain.

Talking about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the education sector, Mahmood said it suffered a loss by remaining closed from March 2020 through September 2020. “We had to close down again in November 2020. But we also adapted. Within 15 days we introduced television school and now we are about to launch radio schooling while universities have moved to online classes.”

Both Sindh and Punjab education ministers had earlier said that it is unlikely that schools would be reopened in January due to the second wave of coronavirus infections.

Talking about the education sector’s goals for 2021, Mahmood said the PTI government is looking to implement a single national curriculum. “It would be applied in all schools both private and public. It is a huge step in ensuring equality,” he maintained. The minister added that the government also aims to increase allocation for university-level education in the upcoming budget.

It may be noted here that private schools associations and councils across the country have opposed keeping schools shut. Last Thursday, a private school council demanded the government to reopen schools on January 11 as planned and also sought an economic relief package. The council recommended, “The government should suspend the registration fee and taxes for a year.” TLTP

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