Authorities on Friday announced that all public and private educational institutions in Islamabad will remain closed from September 6 to September 12.
The announcement was made by the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) and Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PIERA) in two separate notifications.
The announcement comes after several students and teachers were tested positive for the deadly virus over the past couple of weeks, especially in August. However, neither the FDE nor the PIERA have cited the rising number of cases behind the closure of educational institutions, but only mentioning that the fourth wave of Covid-19 caused it to close the educational institutions.
As per the notifications, the decisions have been taken in view of the recommendations of the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC).
According to the notification, all on-campus examinations will also be suspended during the period, with the exception of exams conducted being by the federal board.
According to the NCOC orders, offices, businesses and other commercial activities remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays, however, the FDE had opted for opening educational institutions open on Saturdays, and at least 25 schools were closed in August after many students and teachers were tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to the data shared by the health authorities, a primary school in Sector G-8/2 was closed on Friday for two weeks after five teachers and several students were tested positive for the deadly virus.
According to sources in the FDE, educational officials attempted to sweep coronavirus cases under the carpet as and when they surface at educational institutions. Educational institutions were closed down only after numerous students and teachers caught the virus.
According to an FDE official, the district magistrate has imposed a lockdown on Saturdays and Sundays in Islamabad in compliance with the NCOC orders. However, educational institutions continue to observe Saturdays. “Educational institutions are open today (Saturday) in Islamabad as well,” he said.
A female teacher on the condition of anonymity said, “government offices, markets, and indoor and outdoor gatherings are banned on Saturdays and Sundays, but our schools are open.” She said that in August, 25 schools were closed after a large number of coronavirus positive cases were reported there.
She said that the FDE itself remains closed down on Saturdays, but schools continue to function. This is ironic and shocking.
A lecturer at the Islamabad Model College for Girls (Postgraduate) F-7/2 said: “the controlling office (FDE) observes Saturdays as a holiday, leaving 423 educational institutions on the auto-functioning system. In case of an emergency, educational institutions cannot approach FDE on Saturdays because no official will be available there to tend to emergencies. “It is frustrating that the FDE office remains shut on Saturdays, but they have issued orders for educational institutions to remain open. The FDE is needed to be get rid of a few top officials, who have ruined it,” he said while speaking on the condition of anonymity.
A laboratory assistant at the Islamabad Model Postgraduate College H-8 expressed his annoyance over the lopsided and uneven orders of the FDE in violation of the NCOC directives. “Nothing is more important than the lives of the students and the teachers and the FDE must awake and observe the NCOC’s orders and declare the Saturday as a holiday as was the practice earlier,” he said adding that Covid-19 cases were on the rise in educational institutions.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2021.
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