Schools in Pak closed down for violating Covid SOPs. Image Source: IANS News

Islamabad, Nov 24 : Pakistan's Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said on Tuesday that the decision to close down educational institutes was taken due to non-compliance with government-issued coronavirus SOPs.

"The SOPs were not being followed as they should have been," he said, adding that health department data showed rapid virus transmission in education institutes, Geo TV reported.

Stressing that children's health cannot be taken lightly, Mahmood said there were around 50 million students across the country i.e. one-fourth of our population. "They can become carriers. So it was necessary to shut down schools." Mahmood pointed out that the schools were "shut down" but the students were barred from attending it in person. "We have asked schools to adopt an online mechanism." The education minister said those who cannot adopt online schooling should give out homework. "Students or parents can be called once a week to submit the homework." He asserted that schools will remain open till December 24.

Mahmood said the decision was taken after a "near consensus" was reached during the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) meeting on Monday.

On the other hand, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani said he had opposed the complete shut down as he felt the students would not be able to complete the syllabus.

"I opined that grade six onwards should remain open," he said, adding that authorities could not hold exams in the last academic year due to the coronavirus.

Ghani stressed that despite a short syllabus, the students will not be able to complete it if given more holidays.

Ghani said Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas had said that other sectors should be closed and not just schools. "Raas said children would still be at risk if the markets were allowed to stay open." The Sindh minister said it was the federal government's prerogative to shut down other sectors due to rising coronavirus infections.

-- The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text

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