KARACHI - Sindh Minister for Education and Labour Saeed Ghani said on Thursday that education not only in Pakistan but also in the world had been affected due to COVID-19 that caused educational institutions to be closed for more than six months.

He expressed these views while addressing a function at Narain Jagnath Vaidya (NJV) Government Higher Secondary School here on Thursday. Expressing concern over the growing trend of coronavirus cases in the province, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani on Thursday said the situation on schools closure was unclear at the moment.

Ghani made the comments at a ceremony to distribute tablets among students at a school in Karachi. He stressed that the schools were reopened to mitigate the education loss during the pandemic. “Keeping in view the surge in COVID-19 cases, we don’t know yet if and when schools will be closed again.”

The PPP minister underscored that the tablets would provide relief to the students in case education is moved online again. “Many areas lack internet and other facilities but it is not an issue in 60% of the province.” “There are about 40,000 schools across Sindh. We should not leave them at the mercy of NGOs,” he continued. “We should go ahead and build schools ourselves.” He said that schools were open for now however owing to the changing situation regarding COVID-19 in the country, no one knew when would schools be closed again and for how long, said a communique.

If schools were closed, then Sindh government and various NGOs running government schools had to provide online education to the children. He said that there were more than 40,000 schools in the province. Talking to media persons on the IGP issue, he said that the committee had decided on the issue of IGP. Adding that the committee would present its report to the Sindh Chief Minister.

Ghani’s statement comes a day after the United Nations and World Bank pleaded for schools to remain open despite a surge in global case tally. In a new report, the organisations highlighted the damage the pandemic has inflicted on children´s education, especially in poor nations. Children in impoverished countries have been deprived of close to four months of schooling since the pandemic began early this year, while pupils in rich nations benefiting from remote learning have lost six weeks, the report said.

“Prioritising reopening schools and providing much-needed catch-up classes are critical,” said Robert Jenkins, education chief at the UN children´s fund UNICEF. 

“We don´t need to look far to see the devastation the pandemic has caused to children´s learning across the world.”

COVID-19 spike

Pakistan reported 908 new cases of coronavirus on October 28, the highest number of positive cases since July 29. Sindh has reported over 900 cases and 13 deaths in the last three days.

The case positivity for the country crossed 3% with over SARS-Cov-2 being detected in over 900 samples out of the 29,449 tests conducted on October 28.