All public and some private schools across the province reopened on Monday after two and a half months of summer vacations. Student turnout was low.
Earlier, requests by teachers’ association to extend the summer vacations until after Eid were rejected by the Education Department. However, schools under the Federal Board will open after Eid.
According to the Education Department officials, attendance in the middle schools across the city on Monday was five per cent. It was even less in high schools.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Allah Rakha Gujjar, the Punjab Teachers Union president, said that attendance has been unusually low. “The schools have opened in Punjab only. Those in other provinces and Islamabad will reopen after Eid.”
He said that the union had requested the schools secretary to extend the vacations. The secretary, he said, had told them that a summary proposing this had been forwarded to the chief minister for approval. He said that the education policy had traditionally been framed by the federal government. The provincial government, he added, should have made their decision in line with the federal government.
“It wasn’t a big deal, a matter of 10 to 12 days. Students and teachers would have been at ease had the vacations been extended. Now a majority of the students will remain absent. This will create new problems for teachers,” he added.
Most parents, too, complained about the early reopening of schools saying that long power outages, fasting and monsoon made it very hard for children to settle into school-going routines.
“It is hard for students to come to schools in Ramazan amid load shedding and rains. The government should have extended the vacations till Eid,” Muhammad Abdullah, father of a student at the Queen Mary School, said.
Hamna Ahmad, a class four student, seemed unhappy about not getting the extension in vacations. She said unlike her, her cousins in Rawalpindi were off till Eid. She said she had hoped to spend more time with them if her school had not opened now.
A spokesman for the Education Department said that summer vacations had to be kept down to two and half months.
He said that last year vacations were extended because of the heavy floods. “Teachers should understand that schools have to complete their academic-year days. This would not be possible if they remained closed for two more weeks.” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2011.