The government wants to vaccinate more than 7.5 million students aged between 12 to 18 years within this month so as to continue educational activities. The process for vaccine registration has also been relaxed for this purpose. The students will be able to get vaccinated in accordance with the list prepared by respective educational institutions.

Education minister Dipu Moni said this during a press conference at the secretariat on Monday. The education minister also talked about who would be able to attend the classes. She said no student would be able to attend classes without getting vaccinated after Wednesday.

When asked about the processes of getting vaccinated, a top official of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) told Prothom Alo that they have already received the list. This list has been sent to the vaccine registration related department. From now on, the students will be able to get the vaccine from respective vaccination centres on the scheduled date showing their identity cards. The respective educational institutions will inform the students about the date of vaccination in advance.

The educational institutions of the countries were closed in March 2020 due to coronavirus transmission. After being closed for more than a year and half, classes resumed at a limited scale on 12 September. The exams were also held on a short syllabus and limited subjects based on lesser marks than normal time. However, the transmission of the virus is on the rise again.

In this situation, the concerned persons of the education administration, including education minister Dipu Moni, held a meeting with the National Technical Advisory Committee on Coronavirus last Sunday to make a decision regarding the educational activities amid the recent spike of coronavirus transmission.

It was decided at that meeting that educational institutions will not be closed right now. The educational institutions will continue to operate on a limited scale. However, the meeting decided to strengthen the vaccination drive and to stress on complying with the health guidelines.

The restrictions issued by the cabinet division on Monday evening said that all students above the age of 12 will not be allowed to enter the educational institution without the vaccination certificate after the date fixed by the Ministry of Education.

Acknowledging the decision of the inter-ministerial meeting at the press conference, the minister said, “No student will be able to go to the classes after Wednesday (12 January) without getting the coronavirus vaccine. However, those who have not been vaccinated would take part in online classes or classes aired on television. If everyone gets at least one dose of the vaccine, classes with physical presence will commence.”

However, many think that the compulsory vaccine certificate will create a sense of discrimination among the students and the guardians as the vaccination drive is being conducted under government management. The students cannot get vaccinated from other places even if they want to.

When asked about this, Mohammad Shahidullah, president of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Coronavirus, told Prothom Alo that a target has been set to vaccinate all the students aged between 12 to 18 years within 31 January. After that, the ministry can implement the obligations regarding the vaccine certificate if it wants.

400,000 students have got two doses

The government was mainly vaccinating people over 18. Later, the government started the vaccination drive for students aged between 12 to 18 years under special arrangements on 1 November. The students are getting the Pfizer vaccine.

The education minister said, “There are a total of 11,623,322 students in the country who are aged between 12 to 18 years. Of them, some 4.4 million got the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Besides, some 419,554 students have received both doses. The remaining 7.54 million students are yet to get the first dose.”

Now the government has undertaken the programme to vaccinate all the students between 12 to 18 years with one dose at least. The vaccination drive for the students within that age limit will end within 15 January in 397 upazilas, 17 January in 3 upazilas, 20 January in 56 upazilas, 22 January in 15 upazilas, 25 January 35 upazilas and 31 January in 11 upazilas.

When asked whether it is possible to vaccinate such a large number of students within the time limit, Md Shamsul Haque, member secretary of Directorate General of Health Services’ (DGHS) committee on coronavirus, told Prothom Alo that the programme has been fixed through discussions. They are hopeful that it will be possible to vaccinate all the students aged 12 to 18 years within the scheduled date.

Meeting regarding three universities on Tuesday

The education minister said more than 95 per cent university students, except the students of universities under National, Open and Islamic Arabic University, have been vaccinated. A meeting has been called on Sunday regarding the vaccination of the students of the National, Open and Islamic Arabic University in the shortest possible time.

However, as the Qawmi madrassahs are not under the education ministry, it will be monitored by the local authorities regarding the compliance of the instructions given by the ministry.

Classes for the students under 12 to continue

Students aged 12 to 18 are being vaccinated. When asked about vaccinating students below 12, Dipu Moni said the World Health Organization has not approved the vaccination of children below 12 yet. The government will wait for the decision of the WHO in this regard.