As part of the drive against the spread of novel coronavirus, the government has further extended the closure of educational institutions until July 15. Moreover, all board exams have been canceled and the students have been promoted to the next classes based on last year’s results.
With the announcement of this policy, students studying in universities started a campaign on social media to get their exams annulled too, and to be promoted like the students of schools and colleges. They have complained of ‘discrimination’ on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education.
While schools around the world are reopening day-by-day, in Pakistan the government is stuck to take any reasonable decision with reference to educational institutions. This decision for not opening schools is creating a confusion as from school management to teachers and students- all are affected by it. The All Pakistan Private Schools Federation has rejected the government’s decision to close educational institutions till July 15, calling it an ‘enemy of education’. Punjab Provincial Education Minister Murad Rass told media that schools may remain close until the end of the epidemic. Means there is uncertainty, there is clearly “NO”, there is no hope and there is bleak future.
People are worried about the bread and butter of their staffs and their families. Schools are facing a big challenge of survival. If the situation continues even after July 15, speculations are that the federations and associations of the private schools would take to the streets in order to stand against possible starvation.
No doubt, the government is sincere in stopping the spread of the coronavirus in educational institutions, but doesn’t it know that parents are taking their children to shopping malls, to playgrounds and to their relatives where they interact with others. Isn’t this increasing to corona cases? Where are SOPS here? Is anyone practicing them? Most importantly, is there any relief announced for school owners, for teachers and for non-teaching staff? For big and established schools, it is not a big deal to pay salaries, give waiver if tuition fees, but there is no hope that small and isolated schools can stand on their feet. They are even not able to pay the building rents; how could they give salaries?
Since the closure of schools and cancellation of exams, some students might be celebrating the ‘promotion’ given to them in the next grade, but a large number of students are not satisfied with this decision. Promotion without exams, is, by all means, a decision made in a hurry. It lacks wisdom and strategic thinking.
Pakistan alone is not dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic; rather the whole world is experiencing this catastrophic situation. Did any other country set an example of terminating the exams and promoting their students in the next grades?
Undeniably, initially schools were closed in several countries, but no such step was taken that due to Covid-19 pandemic exams would be considered null and void and students would be promoted in next classes. Did the USA, UK, Germany, Russia, Australia and any other country take such a decision? What about our neighboring countries like India, Afghanistan, Iran, Nepal, Bangladesh, and others? Has China taken such an initiative? Are we most affected by coronavirus than the USA, Italy, and the UK? Is our literacy rate higher than these countries? Are we giving promotion to our students because they deserve we have low literacy rate? Or just because Pakistani students are one of the brilliant ones in the world, so they deserve promotion in the next grade without even clearing the exam? Which country are we following the suit?
As a matter of fact, our rulers have always treated the education sector as if it were an unwanted organ of society. What would the world think of us that Pakistanis are the nation that doesn’t need any schooling? Their governments have no thinking and no policies to deal with the education sector. Won’t they think that we are only afraid of continuity of education? Are our provincial as well as the federal governments not aware of the fact that we are the nation who in the world has the second largest number of out-of-school children? Have they not read the report of the World Bank, which says that around 75% of children in Pakistan are those who not able to read or comprehend a single written line by the age of ten?
Undeniably, from the time when all schools and universities have been closed since March 13th, students were at least doing some learning while at home. They were watching an educational channel called “Teleschool” and doing some reading because they had a responsibility on their shoulders that they needed to study in order to pass the exam and succeed in life, but now when they don’t have to take any pain for sitting in an exam and passing it, would they continue to be engaging themselves in learning activities at home? Who will bother when a guarantee has been given to them that they are promoted in the next grade.
Wouldn’t it be unfair to compile the result of a tenth grader and declare them “promoted” even if they didn’t do well in the ninth grade? Isn’t an eleventh grader luckier because he or she doesn’t need to take the 12th-grade exam? What about a student who failed in the previous exam, but worked hard this year in order to pass the exam? Would he be cleared or declared failed one more time? How students will be directly enrolled in the university? But, by the way, which university will accept these students except the government?
Will any private-sector university proceed with their admissions when they are fully autonomous in doing their businesses? Won’t they object that the students haven’t earned the required credit hours or completed the syllabus? What will be the future of the students who would opt for studying abroad options? Will international universities accept these students?
Let’s be wise. Weakening study habits of our children is not in their best interests as they are talented students who are not afraid of going to the exam halls. They want to achieve grades through their passion and hardworking. They deserve the best quality education, so let’s not create a gap in their learning process.