Private schools owners demand re-opening of institutions

Rifaqat Ullah Razarwal

CHARSADDA: Educational institutions have been closed in 16 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including across the country, to curb the spread of the corona virus, but private school owners in those districts have linked the closure of educational institutions to the dark future of children.

An organization of private schools Private Education Network (PEN), owners, teachers and students of the across the province, staged a protest on Wednesday in front of Charsadda Press Club under the name ‘Talim Bachao Camp’.

The demonstration was attended by local leaders of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Qaumi Watan Party, Awami National Party, Jamat-e-Islami and shopkeepers’ organizations. During the demonstration, Javed Khan, the provincial vice-president of PEN, told to The Frontier Post that the opening of educational institutions would start from April 1st, adding there were only two places in the country where government directives and Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs) are implemented, including military outposts and educational institutions.

Javed Khan claimed that the management of the schools did not spare any effort in using masks and sanitizers for the children as per the directions of the government and ensuring the social distance between them. During the demonstration, participants ensured the use of masks and sanitizers, but the six-foot distance set at the SOPs was not taken into account.

Javed Khan, citing the government department for managing private educational institutions, Private School Regulatory Authority (PSRA), said that there are currently 9,500 private educational institutions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a total of 2.5 million teachers and about 4 million children is studying. He said that due to non-availability of financial resources since March 2020, about 1800 institutions have been closed down in which thousands of teachers’ jobs and children’s education are at stake.

The children in the demonstration chanted slogans like ‘Uncle Shafqat, let me read’ and the banners held in their hands scribed ‘We will run educational institutions with dignity or we will close them’. The demonstration was also attended by female teachers and principals of various private schools. Shakeela Gohar, a female principal of the private school, said that when the lockdown ended last year and educational institutions were reopened, children from prep to primary level lost most of their curriculum. They had forgotten most part of the curriculum and the same lesson was taught to the children again.

“After the lockdown, children feel more stressed, on the one hand they had to memorize the old syllabus and on the other hand they have to memorize new syllabus lessons, which makes the children suffer from stress.” ? Demonstrators have demanded that unemployed teachers and rented schools be adjusted under the Ehsas program.

On 31st of this month, Khyber Medical University Peshawar has released a research report which claims that 25% of children have been confirmed to have corona virus. The report sampled 243 children between the ages of five and 16 from district Swabi, covering a period of three months, from January 2021 to March 2021.

The report’s researcher, Dr Yasir, told to The Frontier Post that 25 percent of the children tested had IGG antibodies that confirmed the corona virus during the last six months, while 2 percent of the children had IGM antibodies that confirms the virus within a week or two. On the other hand, according to a report of the World Health Organization, the rate of corona virus in children worldwide has reached 8% and the majority of them are children who have not found symptoms of corona.

According to the report, the same virus can infect children of any age, while research has revealed that the virus has been detected in children under the age of ten with a low rate of transmission to adults. In this regard, Dr. Feroz Shah, Focal Person, Covid-19, District Headquarters Hospital, Charsadda, endorsed the WHO report and said that the current Corona virus is more dangerous than the previous one, with the only solution being six feet (2 yards) apart, use masks and sanitizers, wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds every hour and get vaccinated.

Dr. Feroz Shah said that the immune system of children is stronger than the elder but children can easily play their role in the spread of the virus which can infect their parents or any other member of the family. Reacting to the announcement the school opening from the 1st April, Assistant Commissioner Charsadda Adnan Jamil said that the ban on gatherings and implementation of SOPs are not only for a particular district but for the whole country and its Implementation is the responsibility of the district administration.

He said that for the last two days, the district administration has been holding talks with private school organizations to convince them that the lives of children are more important than education but if anyone violates government orders, the administration will be taken action under the the ‘Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Epidemic Control and Emergency Relief Act, 2020. Adnan Jamil said that yesterday, notices have been issued to wedding halls and outdoor activities to prevent social gatherings. “If anyone does not comply with government orders, action will be taken according to law,” he said.

Yesterday, a meeting of the Provincial Task Force for prevention of corona virus was held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in which it was decided to reduce 50% staff in the government offices and ban all kinds of outdoor events and gatherings from today. The closure of educational institutions in districts with 5 % more cases, closure of inter-provincial transport two days om a week and ensuring 200 beds in hospitals in the most affected districts by the epidemic.

The total number of cases in Pakistan is 667,957 in which 14,434 people have been killed, while 63,126 people have recovered. according to data released by the National Command and Operations Center, Similarly, 4,757 cases have been reported across the country in the last 24 hours in which 78 people have been killed while 2,848 have recovered.