Provincial governments in the country are hoping they can ride out the second wave of Covid-19 by keeping educational institutions open this winter so that students can make up for the time they lost by not being able to attend classes physically. However, this decision has met with scepticism from parents who are concerned about the health of their children amidst a resurge in the pandemic. Last week, during an interprovincial meeting of education ministers, it was decided to keep educational institutions open for a while longer even though cases continue to rise, and several schools continue to be shut down after staff and students there were found to have been infected with the lethal virus. Another meeting of the education ministers is scheduled for coming week where the emerging situation will be reviewed, and proposals for an early and extended winter break and delay in exams will be considered.
Mounting pressure from private educational institutions was admitted not only by education officials but also by the Sindh education minister and is considered to be a factor in the decision of the province whether or not to close schools for two months. There is a cloud over re-examinations for intermediate students, admission tests for universities and their assessments as well. Quite clearly, the developing situation is not only alarming on its own, but a faster pace has everyone worried. However, it seems that the model of online classes has not been as successful as initially hoped. Many teachers have had to relearn how to deliver lectures, students had to change the way they learn, parents not only have helped keep their children synced with their classes but also to arrange for the necessary gadgets and connections.
Priority must be given to the preservation of life because alternatives are only available for everything else. This is the time to swallow a bitter pill because the second wave is here with a vengeance.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2020.