Arab schools in Pakistani capital kick off classes with temperature checks, masks

Front view of the Sheikh Zayed International Academy in Islamabad, Pakistan, on September 15, 2020. (Courtesy: Sheikh Zayed International Academy Islamabad)
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Updated 15 September 2020

Arab schools in Pakistani capital kick off classes with temperature checks, masks

  • Sheikh Zayed International Academy Islamabad and Sudanese Arabic School are resuming classes on campus this week
  • The Saudi School opts to continue with online classes, says will wait for Saudi government directives to resume regular classes

ISLAMABAD: Arab schools in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad started to reopen on Tuesday for the first time since mid-March, with precautions in place to guard against the coronavirus, ranging from obligatory face masks, temperature checks at the entrance and social distancing in classrooms.
The Sheikh Zayed International Academy Islamabad (SZIA), established by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the late president of the United Arab Emirates, and the Sudanese Arabic School, are resuming on-campus classes this week as per the orders of the Pakistani ministry of education. The Saudi School, however, has opted to continue with online classes.




Internal view of the Sheikh Zayed International Academy in Islamabad, Pakistan, on September 15, 2020. (Courtesy: Sheikh Zayed International Academy Islamabad)

“As per the regulations of Pakistan’s Ministry of Education, the school has started on-campus classes for grade 11 and 12 from today [September 15] and then from Thursday [September 17] for grade 9 and 10,” SZIA Islamabad Principal, Wafaa Abdul Ghaffar, told Arab News.
The school was still awaiting a final decision regarding when pre-school up to grade 8 would switch from online to campus class, Ghaffar added.




A worker disinfects a classroom at the Sudanese Arabic School Islamabad, Pakistan, on September 15, 2020. (Courtesy: Sudanese Arabic School)

Students and teachers had been advised on various precautionary measures, she said, including that they bring a safety kit that included extra masks, sanitizer and gloves.
“To observe all precautions, we have placed a sanitizing gate, temperature check and twice a day proper disinfection of all school premises,” Ghaffar said. “We have 10 to 12 students in each class, so it is easy to observe social distancing in the seating plan.”
The principal of the Sudanese Arabic School, Fazal Badawi, said the school would open on September 21 with “full precautions.”
“We are changing complete furniture of the school and disinfecting premises daily as a precautionary measure against Covid-19,” he said. “The on-campus classes will start next week with complete compliance of coronavirus precautions.”
Abdul Mohsin, the vice principal of the Saudi School, said the school would continue with online classes for now and resume campus classes after directives from the Saudi government.
“The school has started its new session with online classes from the start of this month,” he said. “Our school system works on Saudi government’s policies and will open on campus classes after their [Saudi authorities’] decision.”
Tameem Abubaker Younis, a sixth grader at the Saudi School, said he missed his classmates and looked forward to the early resumption of regular classes.
“My studies are going very well but I still miss my classroom, class fellows and teachers,” he said. “I would like to go back to school soon.”


Pakistan to establish 18 markets on Afghanistan, Iran borders to boost trade, curb smuggling

Updated 18 September 2020

Pakistan to establish 18 markets on Afghanistan, Iran borders to boost trade, curb smuggling

  • Under the plan, the government will set up 12 markets along the border with Afghanistan and six along the Iran frontier
  • Prime minister approves setting up two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by February next year

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has decided to set up markets along its borders with neighboring Afghanistan and Iran to boost trade opportunities, foster peace and check smuggling, the commerce ministry said on Friday.
Main crossing point into Pakistan for both goods and people from Iran and Afghan also serve as major smuggling routes.
“The border markets will help create job opportunities and establish a peaceful relationship with the neighboring countries,” Aisha Humera Moriani, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Commerce, told Arab News.
Under the plan, the government is establishing 18 markets: 12 along the border with Afghanistan and six along the Iran frontier.
In a meeting on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved setting up two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as a pilot project, to be functional by February next year.
Moriani said the markets would contribute to local development and help the government address “smuggling and boost legal trade across the border.”
Pakistan is fencing its borders with Afghanistan and Iran to check cross-border militancy, illegal movement of people and smuggling, which is a major source of income for people living along border towns and villages.
Sardar Shoukat Popalzai, President Balochistan Economic Forum, said the government should have built “common markets” along the Afghanistan and Iran borders with the mutual consent of the neighboring governments to maximize benefits for people on both sides of the borders.
“The government has not released a feasibility report, if there is any, of these markets as to how are they going to help the local population,” he told Arab News.
Popalzai said Balochistan border areas were sparsely populated and establishment of a few shopping terminals would “hardly make any difference in the lives of the people.”
He said cross-border smuggling was a major source of income for people living in the frontier areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, so “this requires a lot more effort than mere setting up of markets to check this undocumented economy.”
Zubair Motiwala, chairman of the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the government should establish cold storages and warehouses in the border markets to boost the export of perishable and other items to the neighboring countries.
“The taxation system on the exports and imports of different items through the land routes should be well defined to encourage businessmen and locals to boost the legal trade with Afghanistan and Iran,” he said.