LAHORE: Punjab Minister for School Education Murad Raas announced on Saturday that there would be no winter vacation in schools of the province this year as there has already been academic loss due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He was addressing a press conference at the Quaid-i-Azam Academy for Educational Development.

Mr Raas said educational institutions reopened in phases from Sept 15 after six months or so and it was decided not to observe any winter and smog-related vacations this year.

Mr Raas also announced starting ‘Insaaf Academy’ in the province to cover the educational loss of the students. Students would get lectures and conduct tests while sitting at home.

He said there were several private academies working in the province but they were charging heavily and he had several reports about the teachers who directed parents to register their children in private academies to cover the syllabus.

He said the parents had approached him time and again and lodged complaints that they could not pay the fee of the schools and academies. “After thorough discussions with teachers, the government has planned to launch Inssaf Academies where top teachers would deliver online lectures on five subjects for class 9 to 12,” he said.

He said the students would also give a time-bound test online while taking the classes and parents could also see the performance of their children.

The minister said the material of the Insaaf Academies would be available at the school education department website and the students could get information and lecture on any subject after logging in there.

He said the government was thinking to impose a ban on the public sector teachers for attending and establishing private academies.

He also directed the school education department officials to hoist banners outside schools with a warning “no mask, no entry”.

About the opposition plan to conduct rallies against the government, he said corrupt people had joined hands to save their plundered money.

WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY: Punjab University Institute of Applied Psychology (PU IAP) marked World Mental Health Day under the theme of “Sharing Advent of New Spectrums of Positivity and Kindness”.

The PUIAP organized a series of webinars from Oct 6 to 9 where speakers from the globe spoke.

IAP Director Dr Rafia Rafique welcomed speakers Dr Fatima Kamran, Dr Afsheen Masood, Dr Tanveer Nasar, Dr Rabia Mushtaq, Dr Farah Abbasi, Dr Mujeeba Ashraf, Dr Afifa Anjum, Dr Iram Zehra Bokharey, Prof Dr Uzma Ali, Dr Sobia Aftab, and Prof Dr Nashi Khan.

They discussed the positive perspective of mental health, healthy coping strategies and ways to cope with stressors.

An interactive session was also held in the webinar for a panel discussion focusing on the wide spectrums of positivity and kindness. The panelists enlightened the participants on the diverse aspects of positivity and kindness in psychology and shared ways to improve physical and psychological well-being.

All sessions were live-streamed through IAP Facebook and attended by hundreds of participants and professionals from all around the world.

PU VC Prof Niaz Ahmed has appreciated IAP Director Dr Rafia Rafiq for taking the initiative of establishing a mental health helpline in order to take care of mental health of people at large.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2020