Decision on campuses reopening in January: Dr Murad Raas

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LAHORE:Punjab School Education Minister Dr Murad Raas has said that there is possibility of extending academic year because of the second closure of schools and added any decision about reopening of campuses would be taken in the first week of January 2021.

Talking to media after the inauguration of Digital Continuous Professional Development – an online training programme for schoolteachers here on Friday, the minister said that Single National Curriculum (SNC), which was approved by the provincial cabinet on Thursday, did not mean single textbook. He said SNC was, in fact, a framework which every school would have to follow.

Dr Muard Raas said book material under SNC could be different but given framework would have to be followed at all cost and added, in Punjab, every textbook to be taught would be approved by the Punjab Curriculum & Textbook Board (PCTB). The minister further said that he was against the closure of schools but had to take tough decision because of the COVID-19 worse situation. He added all education ministers of the country would sit again in the first week of January 2021 and assess the situation to make any decision about the reopening of campuses and extending the academic year etc. To a question, Dr Murad Raas said that there was no harm in replacing even 100 administrative secretaries of School Education Department (SED) if they could not deliver.

He also hoped that there would not be any delay in the provision of books to students under the Single National Curriculum.

Answering another question, he said that there were over 60,000 private schools in the province and the SED Punjab did not have manpower to check schools in case these were allowed to reopen on alternate days. Earlier, Dr Murad Raas inaugurated Digital Continuous Professional Development-an online training programme for schoolteachers under which 193,000 teachers would be trained in the first phase.

He claimed that the PML-N government wanted to run this programme at an annual cost of Rs14 billion but his government was going to do it at a cost of Rs2.5 million only. He said the PML-N government did not go for technology as it did not want transparency in the process.

He said e-transfer facility offered by the SED Punjab had curbed the culture of bribery and facilitated thousands of schoolteachers without spending a single penny.

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