HUNZA: The principals of private schools in Hunza held a meeting on Sunday to discuss the impact of Coronavirus lockdown on the private schools in Hunza. The meeting shared teaching practices adopted by schools during the closured of schools to strategize a common strategy.
The principals of all private schools in Hunza physically attended the meeting while the school heads, who were unable to attend due to travel restriction, were connected through digital link. The meeting was facilitated by Hunza Education Resource Project (HERP).
The meeting stated that private sector is the largest education provider in Hunza District with more than 5400 students’ enrollment and over 560 teachers. The sector, with its limited resources have been striving to provide quality education since its earliest inception into the arena in 1988. The stake and enrollment of students in this sector demonstrate the confidence of parents and community in general.
Students’ tuition fee is the main source to meet the operational cost of these schools. Since the lockdown resulted closure of the schools, submission of monthly tuition fee has been severely disrupted. The reason behind this disruption is closure of schools due to lockdown and ambiguous media campaigns especially a proposed financial support package against tuition fees by the GB Provincial Government. This situation has placed private schools in a very difficult situation, especially schools were unable to pay salaries of their teaching and support staff for months.
Private Schools Association Hunza requested parents to submit tuition fees on monthly basis as per the past practice so that the schools function efficiently. The meeting appreciated all those parents already paying tuition fees in schools regularly and are in contact with teachers regarding their children’s academic progress. The meeting also noted that all other school networks/systems operating in the region are also collecting tuition fees regularly.
The forum is closely liaising with the Private Schools Association in Gilgit and both the forums have agreed that parents should deposit their children’s tuition fees in their respective schools as per the previous practice. The association has been in negotiations with GB Government and is expecting that the government would definitely consider their genuine demand for support to private education sector at GB level at this crucial time. In such a supportive scenario schools will directly pass on the benefit to students’ tuition fee based on the proposed support. But at this stage there isn’t any clear commitment from the Provincial Government.
School administration and teachers were in contact with their students through various channels and doing their best not to suffer the teaching and learning process. All the distance learning means such as written home assignments, provision of worksheets, online teaching and soft learning, sharing of learning material on WhatsApp by forming groups, collecting, assessing and providing feedback on assignments are the means of teaching/learning strategies in place during lockdown.
The meeting observed that distance learning options other than online are more effective as due to poor internet connectivity and other requirements attached to it, such as power supply and availability of smart phones further create hardships for students. Installation of a separate educational local channel and connect students with it is also in consideration in case the lockdown remains for a longer period.
The meeting finally nominated a group of principals to oversee the developments and devise strategies as new developments take place. The team will represent all the private schools of Hunza under the auspicious of Hunza Education Resource Project (HERP)