Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood said on Friday that it was unclear whether educational institutions would be allowed to reopen on January 11, keeping in view the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Talking to a private news channel, the federal minister said authorities would review the education policy considering the new highly infectious strain of Covid-19. “The final decision would be made on the advice of health ministry as this is fundamentally their domain. We cannot risk children’s health.” Mahmood said it was unclear whether schools would be allowed to reopen on January 11 as planned. “We would seek advice from the health ministry and review the ongoing situation during the January 4 meeting. The decision would be taken then.” When asked about the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the education sector, the minister said it suffered a loss by remaining closed from March 2020 through September 2020. “We had to close down again in November 2020. But we also adapted. Within 15 days we introduced television school and now we are about to launch radio schooling while universities have moved to online classes.” Talking about the education sector’s goals for 2021, Mahmood said the PTI government was looking to implement Single National Curriculum. “It would be applied in all schools both private and public. It is a huge step in ensuring equality.” The minister added that the government also aims to increase allocation for university-level education in the upcoming budget. Both Sindh and Punjab education ministers had earlier said that it was unlikely that schools would be reopened in January due to the second wave of coronavirus infections. It may be added here that private schools associations across the country have opposed keeping schools shuts. On Thursday, a private school council demanded the government reopen schools on January 11 as planned and also sought an economic relief package. “The government should suspend the registration fee and taxes for a year.” In November 2020, the federal government, on recommendations by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), had announced that educational institutes will remain closed from November 26 to January 10. The students will study at home or get weekly homework till December 24 and winter vacations will start December 25. All examinations have been postponed except admission and recruitment tests. The schools are scheduled to reopen on January 11. Although education is a provincial subject under the 18th Amendment, the provinces adopted Centre’s policy owing to a Supreme Court decision directing for a uniformed policy to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in the country. Keeping in view the rapid spread of coronavirus infections and a newly-detected more infectious variant, the decision to reopen schools next month is being reviewed. Meanwhile, Shafqat Mehmood on Thursday said the government was ready to hold talks with opposition on every national issue except holding early elections and National Reconciliation Ordinance. Talking to a private news channel, he said the opposition should come in the parliament and discuss the national issues including institutional reforms, improving national economy, electoral reforms and agriculture as well but they were using different tactics to get relief in corruption cases which were registered against their leaderships, he added. The minister said the government would not make any compromise over the matter of accountability of the corrupt. He said opposition parties had entered in a blind alley now. Shafqat Mehmood said the opposition parties were failed to get support of the people against the government during their political gatherings, adding Pakistan Democratic Movement was a flopped show and it was divided by itself now.