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The new academic year uncertainty continues

Karachi, Jan 21, 2008: Caretaker Provincial Minister for Education Shujaat Ali Baig finally gave in the stakeholders and said that the new academic session would start as per the previous schedule (August 1, that is). A notification about this will be issued during the committee's next meeting which will be held either on Monday or Tuesday, sources said.

Last Saturday a long consultative meeting was held with educational partners and government officials, and a consensus emerged for opening schools on April 1. Contrary to the education department's claims about taking all stakeholders into confidence, however, private school management associations alleged that the minister made preferential treatments because expect for one association, no one else was invited to the steering committee meeting where the April 1 decision was finalised. Undoing this decision or taking a decision on an individual level, on the other hand, would be tantamount to violating the procedures of the meeting.

The April 1 decision also had repercussions on students, who for the whole year remained confused about education policies.

Meanwhile, Matric boards have already announced that classes for grades nine and ten would start from April 15. During this time, centres would be established at schools. The latter would therefore remain closed during this period. Sources in the education department said that it would be impossible to complete the entire process on time, and it would therefore be more appropriate to defer the decision till next year.

The caretaker minister will have a meeting on Monday with the Sindh chief minister and the governor, after which the final announcement about the commencement of the new academic session would be notified, officials said.

One of the participants of the meeting said, however, that the minister had given in to the August 1 decision in order to support schools based on the foreign system, because his wife also handles an educational institute based on this system.

A senior bureaucrat also questioned the minister's decision during the last meeting. According to him, in 1992 the World Bank had threatened to cut its financial aid if the academic session did not start from April 1. At that time a three-day conference was called, the outcome of which was the best period for holding exams was March, and the session would start from April 1. The News
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