Education minister opposes closures as Pakistani schools shut again for flouting coronavirus rules

Students wearing facemasks attend a class at a government school in Lahore on September 15, 2020 after the educational institutes were reopened nearly six months after the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. (AFP)
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Updated 20 September 2020

Education minister opposes closures as Pakistani schools shut again for flouting coronavirus rules

  • Dozens of schools were closed in the past few days due to noncompliance with health protocols
  • Pakistan’s infection figures are increasing again after a steady decline between June and late August

ISLAMABAD: Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said on Saturday that any hasty decision to close down schools will "destroy education," after dozens of institutes across Pakistan shut down again for failing to follow coronavirus precautions.
The minister's words came a day after authorities in Sindh province decided to delay the reopening of secondary schools over fears of the spread of COVID-19. Educational institutions across the country started to reopen on Sept. 15. All schools were closed in March when the government enforced a nationwide lockdown to contain the pandemic.
The six-month closure "deeply affected the students," Mahmood said in a Twitter post. "Decision to open was taken with great care. Any hasty decision to close will destroy education."

 

 

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) announced on Friday that another 13 educational institutions — 10 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and three in Sindh — were closed due to “non-compliance with health protocols and disease prevalence.” Also on Friday, Balochistan education department closed two high schools after several students tested positive for COVID-19. On Thursday, 22 schools were sealed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Islamabad and Azad Kashmir.
Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has warned last week that the government was "taking a huge risk" by reopening schools.
“The government should make antibody tests for school staff compulsory to check the infection before the reopening,” PMA secretary general Dr. Qaiser Sajjad told Arab News on Sept. 12, as he warned that school staff and students could become virus carriers.
Pakistan’s infection figures are increasing again after a steady decline between June and late August.
At least 645 people have tested positive for the coronavirus during the past 24 hours. Over 305,000 people have contracted the virus in Pakistan since the beginning of the outbreak and 6,415 have succumbed to the disease.


Pakistan condemns deadly attack at education center in Kabul

Updated 24 October 2020

Pakistan condemns deadly attack at education center in Kabul

  • Daesh reportedly claim responsibility for attack on educational center in western Kabul
  • Uptick in deadly violence has been observed in Afghanistan despite ongoing intra-Afghan peace talks

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has condemned the suicide attack that killed at least 18 people at an educational center in the Afghan capital on Saturday.

The attack happened late afternoon at the center which offers higher education training in a western district of Kabul. At least 57 people were injured in the attack, the interior ministry said. According to media reports, Daesh claimed responsibility for the assault in a post on Telegram.

"Pakistan condemns in the strongest possible terms the inhuman terrorist attack outside an educational center in Dasht-e-Barchi area of Kabul," Pakistan's Foreign Office said in a statement.

"Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and will continue to support a peaceful and stable Afghanistan."

The suicide attack came hours after a roadside bomb killed nine civilians east of Kabul. Officials blamed the Taliban for the roadside attack.

An uptick in deadly violence has been observed in Afghanistan despite ongoing peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban to yield a lasting peace and end decades of conflict in the war-torn country.

The Taliban have been accused of increasing violence to wield leverage in the negotiations.

On Friday, rights group Amnesty International said at least 50 people had been killed in attacks in the preceding week, accusing the Taliban and Kabul of failing to protect civilians.