ISLAMABAD, Mar 24 :Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood on Wednesday announced the extension in educational institutions closure till April 11, in the high-risk areas and specific districts of the country keeping in view the spike in prevalence of the novel coronavirus.
Addressing a press conference after holding an important meeting of Inter-Provincial Education and Health Ministers here at the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to review the spike in current wave of the epidemic, he said more educational institutions could be closed in high-risk areas and selected districts as per discretion of the provinces.
All educational institutions – schools, colleges, universities, madrassas, academies – in the nine districts of Punjab including Rawalpindi, Lahore, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sargodha, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Multan, Sheikhupura and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) would be closed till April 11l, he mentioned.
He said the COVID-19 spike had observed in urban centers especially Punjab’s Lahore district, few areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The prevalence of disease in the Balochistan, Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan provinces had relatively low as compared to the ICT, Punjab, and KP, he said adding all those matters were being considered in detail during the NCOC meeting.
“We are cognizant of the fact that the closure of educational institutions time and again were causing students loss but their health was top priority and the government would not make any compromise on it,” he said.
Announcing the government’s decision regarding annual examinations of Matric and Intermediate, he said during the NCOC meeting the consensus was built on the final examinations that they would be held as per prescribed schedule.
He said O and A levels Cambridge examinations were scheduled from April 26 and “we are going to hold a meeting with Cambridge authorities for postponing the examinations due to upward trend in the pandemic and the decision in that regard will be made afterward.”
He said provinces were permitted to operate staggered classes in low-risk districts. A final review would be made after viewing overall situation with health and education ministers on April 7, he said declaring that if some academies violating closure orders would be sealed.
The government, earlier, announced to close the educational institutions from March 15, to 28, keeping in view the burgeoning COVID-19 cases in the wake of third wave of the deadly virus.