The Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC) and the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) will hold a meeting today to review the COVID-19 situation and decide whether to reopen educational institutions in Pakistan as scheduled. A meeting was also held on Thursday, but no decision was taken.

The IPEMC on January 4 announced the reopening of educational institutions in phases, starting from January 18.

The federal government, on the recommendation of the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), had closed educational institutions on November 26, 2020 till January 10, 2021. They were scheduled to reopen on January 11. However, due to the rise of coronavirus cases across the country, it was decided to start distant learning instead of reopening educational institutions. The IPEMC further decided to take stock of the situation on January 15 before taking a final decision to reopen institutions.

Although education is a provincial subject, under the 18th Amendment, provinces adopted the centre’s policy on a Supreme Court decision directing for a uniform policy to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Private schools across the country opposed the decision to keep them shut, and have been pressing for government authorities to allow students to return to campuses. Many students across the country, however, have been expressing protest against reopening institutes and taking offline examination. On Friday, the hashtags “#ShafqatMehmood” and “#CloseSchoolsNow” were among the top five trends on Twitter.

In a message posted on Twitter on Thursday, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood had announced that the final decision to reopen educational institutes would be based on health risks for students and staff.

“While I desperately want education to continue, the final decision will be on health grounds,” he said. “Students’ well being will always be a priority.”


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