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Our Correspondent

The Express Tribune

Published Date: Aug 22, 2020

Fear expressed over rising out of school kids post Covid-19

The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has created widespread disruptions with education being the most-affected sector, while there is a need to revisit its planning initiatives aimed at achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This was stated by experts, including parliamentarians while sharing their views during an online dialogue on ‘Covid-19 and Pakistan’s SDG Agenda’. The webinar had been organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Friday.

Parliamentary Task Force on SDGs Convener Riaz Fatyana, while highlighting the overall impact of Covid-19, said that education is an area that has been the most affected by the pandemic and special focus is required to revive the sector. He added schools are expected to be reopened in the middle of September, depending on the pandemic situation.

On one hand, we are mindful of the safety and health of our children, on the other, we fear an increase in the number of out-of-school children, he said, adding It is a challenge to maintain a subtle balance between the two situations.

He said that it is time to initiate learning initiatives by involving civil society organizations and other stakeholders so that education continues amidst the pandemic.

He also highlighted the importance of exchanges at the parliament level amongst different countries so that they may share experiences of how not to compromise on the progress made on SGDs during these troubled times.

“Regular introspection about our response to Covid-19 is the need of the hour,” said Mehnaz Akber Aziz, a member of the SDGs Task Force and chairperson of the Special Group on Child Rights.

Terming the pandemic as a huge challenge, she added that unfortunately, the political commitment towards the programming and financing in the social sector was not very strong while our healthcare and education sectors always remained ignored.

She said that the children-specific impacts of Covid-19 have not been analysed, even though they are the ones who suffered the most during the pandemic.

The pandemic is still far from being over and reopening of schools poses a big risk, especially when schools do not have pandemic-financing available to ensure personal protective equipment (PPE) etc.