Schools throughout Punjab may remain closed for an extended time period given the situation of the coronavirus pandemic, said Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas on Tuesday.
The minister was speaking at the opening ceremony of the retirement system for teachers of the province where he touched upon the issue of schools being closed throughout the province.
"I want to open schools," he said. "However, we may have to go with the option of extending the closure of schools, given the current circumstances," added the minister.
Raas said that personally he was not in favour of closing schools, adding that the pandemic had wreaked havoc on children's education. "A joint meeting of all education ministers will take place on January 4 where the decision to extend schools closure or not will be taken," he added.
The minister said that the provincial government suspended examinations for grade V according to the assessment policy. "When it came to the exams of fifth graders, teachers were helping students cheat," he said, explaining the Punjab government's decision.
The minister said that the Private Schools Act will be sent to the cabinet for approval. He said that the legislation will get the government's nod within three months.
Raas said that private schools can now get registered with the provincial government online, adding that 31,000 private schools had done the same.
Speaking more about Punjab government's measures for education in the province, he said that a "Child Education Book" had been launched which met international standards in quality of education.
He told participants of the gathering that from next year, teachers' retirement cheques will be deposited directly into their accounts.
Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood had announced earlier that schools across the country will remain closed until January 10, 2021, in the wake of the rising coronavirus cases.
"All ministers have mutually decided that to keep all educational institutions, including schools, colleges, universities, and tuition centres closed. However, online classes will continue from November 26 to December 24 after which winter break will start. Schools will reopen on January 11, 2021," Shafqat Mahmood had said.
The decision was taken during the Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC) convened last month to discuss school closures.
Shafqat Mahmood had said that children's health and safety is the top-most priority of the government, adding that examinations scheduled to take place in December will be postponed, with the exception of a few professional exams.
During the meeting, it was decided that micro-decisions regarding examinations and other matters will be taken by the respective province.