COVID-10 pandemic: Private school owners demand reopening of schools

1.5mn teachers, staff members and school owners face severe financial crunch due to COVID-19, say Private Schools Action Committee

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The Private Schools Action Committee (PSAC) held a demonstration on Tuesday in front of the Karachi Press Club against the ongoing closure of educational institutions in the province due to the coronavirus pandemic, reported The News.

Holding placards, the protesters demanded that schools be reopened. They were of the view that the provincial government did not plan on financially supporting private educational institutions while they had to pay building rents, utility bills, salaries and taxes.

Addressing the protesters, PSAC representative Aleem Qureshi said that around 1.5 million teachers, non-teaching staff members and school owners have been facing a severe financial crunch, but the education minister remains silent as their hardships mount.

Parvaiz Haroon, a PSAC leader, said: “On the one hand the government has allowed all kinds of commercial and economic activities, but on the other, only education institutions are closed because of COVID-19. The government has made such decisions without proper planning.”

He said owners of private schools have no resources to meet their expenditures, while the government keeps on insisting that the owners should provide concession in tuition fees. School owners have followed government's orders, but authorities have not announced any financial assistance for low-fee institutions, he added.

Hanif Jadoon, another PSAC representative, said the administrators of private schools are left with no other option but to shut down their institutions. However, he added, the permanent closure of low-fee schools will cause the number of out-of-school children to shoot up.

He said the government should introduce some strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) that should be followed in schools so that the resumption and continuity of academic activities can be ensured.

Protesters announced that if the government did not allow the reopening of private schools with SOPs, the owners of such institutions would deem themselves free to reopen them on June 15.

Originally published in The News