Sindh may close schools if COVID-19 cases increase, Saeed Ghani

Sindh might close schools if the coronavirus infections in the province witness an increase. The announcement came a day after all of the educational institutions in the province reopened.

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Sindh might close schools if the coronavirus infections in the province witness an increase. The announcement came a day after all of the educational institutions in the province reopened.

Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani, addressing a press conference on Tuesday, said that on February 1, all educational institutions reopened, while some unprepared schools remained close.

“Parents who do not want to send their children to schools can refrain from it. Also, the administration can’t ensure SOPs’ implementation; the parents should play their part in it as well,” the education minister said.

Moreover, the education minister said that 50% attendance was permitted in the schools in a bid to keep the virus at bay, adding that the government had conducted COVID-19 testing in schools and colleges.

Until now, the positivity rate in colleges is 1.9%, while in schools it stands at 5.9%, Ghani said. The education minister highlighted that four colleges had been shut after several COVID-19 cases were reported there.

Sharing further statistics, he said that the government had conducted 11,845 tests in the province’s schools’ and from them, 546 came positive. “As the minister, I want the education department to improve.”

Speaking on the political front, Ghani said that Sindh Governor Imran Ismail was a member of PTI’s parliamentary board, while the governor of any province should remain unbiased. “According to the Constitution, the Senate elections are held through secret balloting. PTI does not trust its members anymore,” the education minister said.

Read more: In Pakistan public education suffocates under surging population

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.

On the other hand, experts are of the view that Pakistan must reopen educational institutions. 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”.

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

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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