Since March 2020, educational institutions in nearly the whole world were temporarily closed amid COVID-19 pandemic. Among other losses like economical and moral losses, COVID-19 has given the huge loss to the education of the whole world as well. Since the closure of educational institutions including Schools, Colleges and Universities, students are continuously seeking and expecting any dates for the reopening of educational institutions.
Efforts of the World for Reopening of educational institutions
Administration of all the countries tried to continue their education setup through online sessions. But online sessions have not become pretty much successful. The reason is that the students living in remote areas are not being able to have better internet connections and other essentials like Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones. Especially students of initial grades are not being able to understand the concepts through online sessions properly.
In-short, online session never proved to be a great equivalent of the in-person classes held under the campus premises.
Other challenges for the governments to counter
Administrations of different countries were having the tough task of controlling the pandemic first. Their first and foremost priority was to stop the spread of Coronavirus under their jurisdiction and territory. Many countries faced the challenges to improve their health facilities immediately to accommodate the patients affected by COVID-19.
Another huge challenge was to control the poverty, because due to the pandemic almost 40-50% of the people got unemployed. That includes, the labors used to work on daily wages and other owners of small businesses who are used to earn on daily basis and many others. Governments of the countries need to accommodate those unemployed citizen as well as to provide them food and other necessities.
After planning to meet the above challenges of improving health facilities and unemployment, third of the priorities of the Government would be the restoration of education setup. Countries with strong economy and technological background like China restored their education setup immediately after combating the pandemic, with strict SOPs and methods of surveillance by utilizing different advanced technologies. We have to keep in the mind that China was declared to be the epicenter of the pandemic, but still managed to become first in reopening their education setup among the other countries of the world.
But the countries which were not having enough resources like many other Asian and African countries, were having no other option instead of the temporary closure till the end of the pandemic.
Scenario for the Reopening of educational institutions in Pakistan
Pakistan was one of those countries who were left with minimum resources; they have the same challenges to improve the health facilities in no time and to feed their unemployed population. It is therefore educational institutions in Pakistan are still remained to be closed since March 2020. Government was seemed to be very much puzzled they issued the schedule for the reopening of education setup multiple times, but every time they extended the date. As mentioned above due to the unavailability of the resources the online sessions has become failed very miserably, and students have left far behind in their learning process.
Researchers are waiting for their universities to be reopened to continue their research; students which were supposed to obtain their degrees before the start of the Spring 2020 semester are still waiting for the reopening of the universities, so that they will get able to obtain their degrees.
What National Minister of Education said about reopening of educational institutions
Minister of Education Mr. Shafqat Mehmood has issued another date for the reopening of the educational institutions throughout the country which is 15th of September 2020. While the Private Schools Association has refused to accept the decision of the federal ministry once again like they used to do in the past.
Private Schools Association in a press conference earlier this week announced that “We are going to open the private schools all around the country from 15th of August 2020”.
While the provincial minister of Sindh Mr. Murtaza Wahab in reply to this press conference of Private Schools Association said that, “We will not compromise on the matter of children at any cost and will not allow any school to be reopened from 15th of August 2020, and if any school found to be violating the decision of Federal Ministry of Education then the license and registration of that school will be canceled immediately”.
These underground battles can be seen most the times between the Government and Private Schools Association. The result of these battles can be seen as the big confusion and misconception among the students and parents that whose decision they have to follow?
The private schools and colleges are the members of the association, while all the private universities are operating under the umbrella of Higher Education Commission Pakistan, so they are bound to follow the guidelines of HEC, they even can’t afford to think going against the guidelines of HEC.
Scenario of reopening of educational institutions throughout the globe
The educational setup of the whole world is suffering from the pandemic, and different hurdles are coming in the way of even strong economies to resume the educational setup. Following is the analysis of the different countries trying to reopen the educational setup.
England and Wales
In England it was announced that the schools are going to be opened since 1st of June 2020, they made this decision by concerning with the parents and authorities of the schools, and around 52% of the private school authorities declared them as compatible enough in terms of safety measures to accept more students from greater grades. But the government restricted the schools to do so and allowed a very minimal quantity of students under the campus premises.
While in Wales, the education setup was resumed and once again got aborted due to the shootout of the pandemic and announced that the schools were being reopened by 29th of June 2020 for fewer students.
In Scotland, the educational setup will remain temporarily closed till 11th of August 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Union HRD Minister Ramesh Nishank Pokhriyal, the schools and colleges are going to be reopened after August 2020, they may reopen the education setup by the 15th of August 2020 or it may get delayed, as the educational institutions are closed since 25th of March 2020 all across India.
The process of reopening the educational setup will be started in August after assessing the whole scenario of COVID-19 in the country. In addition he said that, “After August 2020 universities will start their new session”.
On Sunday 12th July 2020, the US Chief of Education Betsy DeVos, signaled that the educational institutions can be reopened for five days a week for in-person classes in coming weeks.
It has been in observed that in several talk shows the argumentation of Betsy DeVos with several health experts keep ran in a proper flow, the health expert argued about the increasing number of COVID-19 positives and Education Chief kept herself in the corner of reopening of the in-person education setup as soon as possible.
Bangladesh can be observed quite reluctant in reopening the educational institutions as according to their highest authorities of the country; they are not in the position to reopen the educational setup now. According to them Coronavirus pandemic is still in acceleration mode in their country. It is therefore they are not taking the decision to reopen their educational institutions.
Prime Minister of Bangladesh Hasina Wajid said that, “Maybe we would not open the colleges now, we can’t open the educational institutions and want to proceed gradually we need to keep it in the mind that we can’t get our children affected by the COVID-19, they are our future and we just can’t through them out in such uncertainty”.
Being one of the biggest victims of COVID-19 in Asia, Iran has suffered a lot and has lost a lot of their precious lives due to this pandemic.
Coronavirus has impacted the educational setup of Iran as well. President Rouhani said that, “Students will return to their classroom to start the new academic year, He added that “The higher education centers will be able to open their in-person educational sessions till 5th of September 2020.
Minister of Education Mr. Hussain Bin Ibrahim Al-Hammadi said that, “Educational institutions across all over UAE including governmental and private schools, colleges and universities can be opened in the mid of September after taking recommendations from the medical authorities.
As the education sector of UAE is also in the mode of suspension since March 2020, which is expected to be reopened in the month of September 2020. However from 23rd of August 2020 the administrative staff can join their campuses to manage the things and prepare the campus according to the requirement of COVID-19 measures all across the country.
In Canada, the case is not the same as the above nations, in some of its provinces the in-person educational process is in continuation since May 2020 with safety measures and precautions. But in the most populous among all its provinces Ontario the in-person education process is abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The administration has directed the educational boards to prepare primary plans by early August 2020, so they can get able to open the Campuses for the students by the mid of September 2020.
Right now, the whole world is suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic and they are trying to get through to this crisis. Countries are trying to revive their ruined economies. And the educational and learning process is the key player in the revival of any economy. It is therefore it should be the first and foremost job of the all the stakeholders including Governmental and private bodies to utilize all of their resources to resume the international educational setup as soon as possible.
Because the future of our children is solely depends on the quality of education they are obtaining right now. Otherwise it will become very hard for the whole world to obtain the norms back.
Story by: Talha Ali Hashmi