By: Sajad Jatoi
Since the emergence of the Coronavirus a year back, students are the only creature that the virus has affected badly. After a closure of six months, it was hoped that the studies of students would get along uninterruptedly.
But, unfortunately, the government has again decided to close all educational institutions from 26 November onwards.
Further elaborating on the decision, federal minister for education Shafqat Mahmood addressing a conference said that the schools would be closed. However, the students would continue learning ‘from home’ online up to the 24th of December and from then on schools would be closed as winter vacations would start. Meanwhile, the teachers will have to go to school twice a week in order to check the homework of students.
The winter vacations would start from 25 December and last until 11 January. While the MDCAT and other professional exams would go as planned. Moreover, the board exams would be pushed to June.
The decision has come against a backdrop of second wave of COVID-19. Many people were fearing that the government would definitely close schools, for it was constantly hinting at it indirectly.
The proposal that the government has made as to continuation of dissemination of education through online classes is a far cry from what is intended. Even the government does not have sufficient infrastructure to carry on with online classes, let alone students.
Even the teachers, especially primary and elementary, do not have access to the internet. How would students do? The decision would do no good to millions of students who belong to middle and lower classes of society. To them, the virtual classes mean the same as closure of schools altogether. Poor students cannot buy even books of their own, how are they supposed to have access to online classes?
Anyway, now that the government has decided to close all educational institutions, let’s have a look at how it will affect the students. It’s simple; students will remain away from their studies for another month or two. But, it is not that simple as it appears to be; it is not about only remaining away from study. It would affect students badly.
The progress that students had made during the little period of reopening of schools from September would also come to a halt. In addition, the closure of educational institutions would also affect their studies, because after the reopening students will not be able to keep pace with their syllabus.
They will only have a three to four months to cover their syllabus. Given the overall progress of students in the current academic year, it seems quite difficult for students to learn what the normally do.
While one cannot say that the government has done wrong, one cannot say either that it has done good. Students have already suffered a lot. It would have been better, if the government had come up with some other plans, not to close schools.
The government could still control the virus with educational institutions open. Strict observation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) could allow the government to fight the pandemic without affecting the students. It is, therefore, important for the government to make all the responsible institutions work with SOPs.
It is not the closure of educational institutions, but the strict observance of SOPs that is key to halting the spread of the virus.