The reopening of schools, colleges and universities comes down to two reasons. First, the education of 40 million students across Pakistan was being affected badly for the last 6 months which is a matter of grave observation for the government of Pakistan.

Second, since different markets, plazas, gyms, restaurants, marriage halls and public offices were allowed to reopen by the government, the demands from Pakistan Private School Association (PPSA) had gained momentum for the reopening of schools and colleges. Moreover, a large number of institutions with a strength of 35 million students, were unable to manage online learning due to having scarce resources.

Employers of different private educational institutions were of the views that if other various segments can be permitted to resume to their daily activities, then why only they are an exception. Majority of them, including teachers, were not being paid their salaries and had come under financial constraints due to constant closure of institutions, they added.

Indubitably, It is a wise decision to reopen institutions from September 15th, keeping the importance and inevitability of education into account. It had become indispensable to resume to educational activities physically because scores of students were not equipped for the virtual system of education. Majority of them are deprived of internet facilities nor do they possess electronic equipment including computers, laptops, and android cells for this very purpose. Furthermore, imparting online education from class 1 to class 8 was also an uphill task.

Nevertheless, despite reopening the institutions, there still exist myriads of problems that might become an obstruction to the implementation of preventive measures. As per various surveys, 65% of government schools across Pakistan are deprived of basic facilities. They routinely suffer from dirty water, scarcity of rooms as per students’ strength, scanty of furniture and that available is in ruined condition, lesser number of filthy washrooms and poor sanitary conditions, contaminated buildings and no supply of electricity. In addition, the majority of students, studying in government schools, belong to poor families, so they can not afford masks on a daily basis as per government instructions. It will be an impossible job for the students from class one to five to maintain social distance.

Under such critical conditions, reopening of institutions is not out of danger. According to Pakistan Doctors Union, although, there is a dramatic decline in coronavirus pandemic cases, yet the risk is largely present until the anti-coronavirus vaccine is developed. Resumption of educational activities may lead to a second and third wave of the virus across the country.

However, to ensure the implementation of SOPs, the federal and provincial governments have to help education departments to procure required preventive materials including sprays for decontamination of buildings, provision of masks, sanitizers, detergents, temperature guns and medication facilities to diagnose the students on the spot. The government needs to widely and consistently adopt and devise a comprehensive long-term strategy that is holistic and all-encompassing, best at containing coronavirus transmissions from teachers to students and from students to students.

WASEEM SHABBIR,

Gujranwala.