peshawar    -   Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Elementary, Secondary and Higher Education Departments have completed arrangements for reopening of educational institutions for the students of 9th and onward classes from September 15 (Tuesday) under the standard operating procedure (SOPs) after a gap of six and half months following a significant reduction of coronavirus cases in the province.

“The Elementry and Secondary Education Department has issued SOPs for all educational institutions of public and private sectors under which use of masks for all students and teachers besides cleanliness of schools on daily basis has been made mandatory,” an official of Education Department said.

The educational institutions have been directed to make arrangements for soaps and water for washing of hands of students and teachers with regular intervals, ensure distancing among students in classrooms and avoiding shaking of hands and hugging in educational institutions.

Holding of assembly and others such like gatherings besides taking or sharing of meals should be avoided in educational institutions.

The parents have been advised to not send their children to the institutions in case of COVID-19 symptoms.

He said strict action would be taken against teachers, students and parents in case of violation of SOPs.

To ensure implementation of SOPs, the KP government has constituted special committees at districts and schools level with representation to all stakeholders.

The District Education Officers (DEOs) will lead the six-member monitoring committees in their respective districts comprising a Principal (BS 20), SDEOs, ASDEOs, chairman of teachers-parents councils and a representative of the health department.

The schools committees would be headed by headmaster, others teachers and community members. These committees would be further monitored by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Monitoring Authority. These committees would ensure implementation of SOPs in schools, colleges and universities besides prepare reports of teachers and students in case of symptoms of coronavirus, which would be submitted to education department on weekly basis.

Meanwhile, a mega development plan has been formulated for revival and development of education sector in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the wake of coronavirus crisis.

The special focus would be made on construction of new schools, colleges, recruitment of teachers, infrastructure development and strengthening of public sector universities.

Under the plan, conditions of about 26,000 schools would be improved in the province where problems of missing facilities like washroom rooms, boundary walls, clean drinking water and shortage of teachers would be addressed.

For effective management and supervision of schools and teachers performance, the Education Department would recruit additional Assistant Sub District Education Officers for all 35 districts in the province.

Likwise, schools leaders would be recruited for effective schools management besides financial resources would be provided for purchase of tablets for education of students.

As many as 1,210 schools would be uplifted and 534 schools would be upgraded besides construction of 300 new schools.

To promote higher education, the KP government would spend Rs.1 billion on strengthening of public sector universities with allocation of Rs.110.6 million for UET Swat in budget 2020-21.

Similarly, Rs.1.3 billion would be spent on construction of 74 new colleges across the province and Rs.500 million for establishment of Pak-Austria Fachashule Institute at Haripur.

The official said COVID-19 had badly affected education sector in KP where about 27,350 government schools including 21,180 primary, 255 community, 791 maktab and 5,538 secondary schools with an enrolment of around 4.381 million students and about 6,743 private schools with an enrolment of approximately 2.069 million had been closed since March due to coronavirus pandemic.

He said special focus would be gived to bring about 253,175 street children under schools net, adding the main reasons behind the substantial number of out of schools children especially girls was corporal punishment, poverty, English as medium of instructions, economic imbalances, lack of parents interest and early marriages.

He said 64pc of the country’s population was below 30 years of age and providing free education up to metric level to them had been made compulsory under Article 25-A of the Constitution. 

He said closure of educational institutions for a longer period was not in the country and people’s interest and government’s decision to open up education institutions in phase-wise from September 15 was a positive step in the right direction.

The official lauded the role of TeleSchool television channel launched by Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training and PTV in providing quality education to the children at homes during COVID-19 pandemic.