Education ministers meet put off at last minute

Jamila Achakzai
Friday, Jan 14, 2022

Islamabad : The meeting of the federal and provincial education ministers slated to decide whether to close schools or not in light of a countrywide surge in coronavirus cases was put off at the eleventh hour on Thursday until next week.

However, there is no official word on the reason for the postponement of the meeting. The 34th meeting of the Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference to be chaired by federal education minister Shafqat Mehmood in the chair was called to decide whether the current coronavirus situation warrants the closure of schools or not as the country strives to contain the spread of the infection, especially after the emergence of a new super spreader variant, Omicron.

In a notification circulated shortly before the meeting's start, the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training on Thursday said, “In continuation of this ministry's DO Letter of even number dated 11th January 2022 the meeting of the Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC) scheduled on 13th January 2022 has been postponed till next week.” It didn't carry any reason for the sudden move.

In the last 24 hours, Pakistan reported more than 3,000 coronavirus cases for the first time since September 15, 2021, said the National Command and Operations Centre on Thursday morning. The NCOC, which is the nerve centre of the country's efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, also revealed that 3,019 more cases were reported nationwide in the last 24 hours taking the overall infection tally to 1.31 million.

The COVID-19 positivity ratio reached 6.12 per cent, the highest in more than four months, as the infection rate was last above it on September 8, 2021. On Tuesday, federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry had ruled out the possibility of school closures and imposition of lockdowns due to the rising coronavirus cases. After a cabinet meeting, he had told reporters that though the coronavirus positivity ratio had doubled in the country, the federal government would absolutely not impose lockdowns in the country as the economy could no longer bear its burden.

Meanwhile, Punjab education minister Murad Ras tweeted that for all the inquirers whether schools were closing or not, every other activity especially social activity had to be stopped before schools. “Schools should be the absolute last in line to close. The learning losses of our children in the past two years - Unimaginable,” he said.