Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Pakistan to reopen universities from Feb 1: Sindh reports 59 COVID-19 cases at colleges

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Federal Minister for Education and National History and Literary Heritage, Shafqat Mahmood has said on Saturday that primary classes and universities will be reopened from February 1. Speaking to journalists in Sukkur, Shafqat Mahmood ruled out further delay in reopening of primary schools and universities and added that the corona outbreak has already cost huge loss to the students’ studies.

On the other hand, the education department has confirmed 32 COVID-19 positive cases in staff members of the APWA Govt. Girls College. The infected staffers of the college have been sent to quarantine, according to a statement of the Sindh education department.

Earlier, as many as 59 staffers of Karachi’s Sir Syed Girls College were found infected with the novel coronavirus.

Samples of 130 staffers of the educational institution were collected for testing after colleges across the country resumed on-campus classes on January 18, out of which 59 found to be positive, according to health officials.

Earlier, 21 staffers at the Shaheed-e-Millat Girls Colleges had tested positive for Covid-19, while three at the Delhi College and 21 at the Government Riaz Girls College of the city.

Tests of teaching and non-teaching staff of several other colleges of the city are yet to be conducted in phases.

The college teachers’ body Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association has demanded authorities to speed up coronavirus tests in educational institutions.

Classes nine to 12 resumed on-campus sessions on Jan 18 while classes one to eight as well as universities will reopen from Feb 1.

Read more: In Pakistan public education suffocates under surging population

On Jan 15, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood had tweeted: “After a detailed analysis of the situation by health and education ministers we have decided to start classes for 9,10,11,12 as per announced schedule of Jan 18. Priority is being given to them because of board exams that have been postponed to May, June.”

“All other educational institutions, that is class 1 to 8 and universities will reopen on Feb 1. In the meantime we will review the situation city wise next week.”

Analysts in Pakistan are suggesting the government to reopen educational institutions in order to ensure that private schools, colleges and universities do not go bankrupt.

A country already struggling to deal with an unprecedented economic recession may not be in a position to give any bailout package to schools dealing with economic repercussions as a result of the deadly pandemic.

Read more: To improve education in Pakistan we need 2-Way communication

Savail M Hussain, a prominent economist and entrepreneur, recently argued that “it is the time to reopen education”.  He also maintained that “in a country where even in the best of times almost 22 million children remain out of school, continued school closure will result in an educational and social disaster that will take generations to repair. Governments are risk-averse – and rightly so”.

Mr. Hussain also said that “they [governments] must not ignore the evidence that education is amongst the lowest-risk sectors. They must take heart from what the world is doing and what people across Pakistan are telling them. And above all they must demonstrate leadership for that will determine – in this once in a lifetime crisis – whether Pakistan sinks deeper into the abyss of ignorance and its attendant miseries, or emerges stronger”.

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