With temperatures touching 40 degrees centigrade in the federal capital, 25 schoolchildren reportedly fainted in the Bhara Kahu area on Wednesday.
After the prolonged closure of schools due to the coronavirus situation, the public and private educational institutions were reopened across the country on Monday. However, the returning students are finding it hard to cope with high temperatures inside the classrooms.
The decision to open schools and organising exams during the usual summer vacation months has put children's lives at stake while non-air-conditioned (AC) transport packed with students amid scorching heat has added insult to injury.
In light of this, the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) has reduced the school timings from 7am to 11am, however, the parents have demanded the announcement of summer vacations and the resumption of online classes by promoting the students without holding examinations.
Moreover, institutions operating evening shifts will open on Friday and Saturday, FDE officials noted, adding that schools are to operate at 50 per cent class attendance.
The parents and teachers said physical classes should be stopped and called for the resumption of online classes like before. They were of the view that the students should be promoted to the next classes and online classes should be conducted after the assignment of homework.
On the other hand, the absence of power in a federal government school in Bhara Kahu resulted in the fainting of three students. The hot surroundings also caused nose bleeding in many students, which the school staff tried to help by dousing cold water onto their heads.
Area Education Officer (AEO) Sohail Khan confirmed that three children fainted due to sweltering heat as there was no electricity in the institution due to power load-shedding.
Meanwhile, Federal Education Board Chairman Dr Qaiser Alam has said that board examinations would take place from July 10 to July 31 and papers for grades 10 and 12 will take place before grades nine and 11. He said this at a press conference held at his office on Wednesday, adding that practical examinations will be conducted next year while the results would be generated within an hour.
The chairman said the same pattern would be applicable to the students reappearing for their exams and the date sheet for them would be issued with grades nine and 11 while their exams would be conducted in August.
It will be the first time in the federal board’s history that the attendance would be taken digitally, he stated, adding that the attendance results would be produced in an hour on the board’s dashboard while the parents would also be informed via text message about the attendance, he said.
Besides this, Dr Alam said that there would be digital as well physical invigilation of students. He maintained that the board will try to announce the results of intermediate examinations by August so that the students may apply to universities based on their grades.
The official assured that there would be strict implementation of anti-Covid standard operating procedures (SOPs) in 767 centres for matriculation and 385 for intermediate exams for over 385,000 students.
He added that the board has cut the syllabus short due to the pandemic situation while students are only required to attempt compulsory subjects.
The chairman further informed that the papers would undergo e-marking, which would bring greater transparency to the process. He added that the board is striving to produce results within a month.
To a question regarding reforms, he said that the board was providing services in five minutes under a one-window system while all services could be accessed online and availed after making an online payment.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10h, 2021.