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Decision to reopen educational institutions on Sept 7: Shafqat

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Decision to reopen educational institutions on Sept 7: Shafqat
ISLAMABAD:22 August: Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood Friday said the Inter-Provincial Ministers Conference would decide about the countrywide reopening of educational institutions on September 07 after examining the incidence of COVID-19.

“The education sector will be reopened in line with the recommendations of the Federal Health Ministry, which will also develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the functioning of schools and colleges,” the minister told a presser here.

Shafqat Mehmood said his ministry’s Teleschool initiative launched on April 07 during the closure of schools was appreciated internationally as it benefitted around eight million students across the country.

“The first experience of online classes at higher education level was successful. However, some issues related to internet connectivity emerged in far off areas that are being sorted out,” he said.

The minister said though distance learning had been there for years, its importance was highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic, so an institution regarding distance education system had been established in the Education Ministry to meet future needs.

In a paradigm shift in the country’s education system, the minister said, the federal government has announced that non-Muslims will be taught their respective religions in schools. “In order to promote interfaith harmony in the country, we’ve decided that non-Muslims will study own religions in educational institutions from the next academic year. Currently, they’re taught ethics as an alternative to Islamiyat, which is taken by Muslims,” he said.

The minister said as part of educational reforms, the Centre had developed the draft ‘single national curriculum’ in consultation with provinces and experts and in line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to remove disparities between education standards of urban and rural areas, ensure equal opportunities for competition and progress to both the rich and the poor, and increase enrolments in government schools.

“New model textbooks are being prepared, while the new curriculum from grade one to grade five will be introduced in government, private and religious schools across the country by April next year. That curriculum will consist of subjects on national heroes, tales, and unanimous heritage of the country,” he said.

Shafqat Mehmood said the new syllabus developed in line with international standards and meant to meet current and future needs would reform madrassa education and thus, provide seminarians students with career opportunities in both civil and armed forces institutions.

“Urdu will be the main medium of instruction for the new curriculum, which will be implemented from class one to five in the next educational year. However, provinces will have the choice to use their major languages along with Urdu to instruct children. All this will happen in line with the provisions in the Constitution,” he said.

The minister said as seminaries played a key role in educating a large deprived segment of society, the ministry signed an agreement with a seminary regulator, Wafaqul Madaris, for the registration of religious schools across the country. The minister said besides providing regular education, the federal government had also focused on skill development sector to create better employment opportunities for youths.

“Under the Youth Programme, we’ve launched Hunarmand Pakistan for the professional training of around 170,000 youth. In phase-1 of this programme, 50,000 students are being provided with skills training. The vocational sector is also being reformed by the government for better performance,” he said.

Shafqat Mehmood said 50,000 students of higher education were given away scholarships under the Ehsaas Programme, while the Education Ministry had allocated own funds for the scholarships of nursing training of 1,000 nurses. He added that a hefty amount of funds were doled out for scholarships of art and culture education.

The minister said 600 new teachers had been recruited to address faculty shortage in Islamabad’s government schools, while seven schools were being established in the capital.The news.
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