On Thursday night, the national technical committee on coronavirus affairs gave its approval to open the educational institutions.

After the meeting, the committee president Mohammad Shahidullah told Prothom Alo that the rate of infection has decreased by 70 per cent from its peak. Gradually the availability of vaccines is also being ensured. That is why the educational institutions could be opened now given that some safety measures are taken, he added.

At the same night, education minister Dipu Moni hinted at a private television programme that the decision on gradual opening the educational institutions from 12 September could be taken.

Earlier, on 26 August, the government extended the closure of secondary and higher secondary-level educational institutions until 11 September. The education ministry also said the authorities of public and autonomous universities may reopen their respective institutions under their own management after 15 October. However, education ministry sources said the decision of opening the universities after 15 October could be changed. The universities will take the decision on their own.

The 26 August meeting of the education ministry was attended by vice chancellors and concerned officials of the ministry, the primary and mass education ministry and University Grants Commission joined the virtual meeting with education minister Dipu Moni in the chair. The meeting sought advices from the national technical committee on coronavirus affairs about opening the educational institutions if the coronavirus infection rate come down to 5-10 per cent.

A recent study said 19 per cent of primary students and 25 per cent of secondary students are at risk of lack of learning because of the closure of educational institutions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

An UNICEF report, published on 24 August, said Bangladesh is in second position in respect to days of keeping educational institutions close at a stretch for Covid-19 situation, bringing uncertainty to the 40 million students from primary to tertiary levels.

The government was facing criticism for keeping educational institutions closed even after opening almost all other institutions.

At a meeting with secretaries on 18 August, prime minister Sheikh Hasina directed the concerned to open the educational institutions considering the infection rate and vaccination as soon as possible. On 2 September, she said in parliament that she has given directions to open school-college soon.

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