Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi along with Zahid Saeed Green Crescent Trust Karachi
Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi along with Zahid Saeed who is CEO of his partner charity, Green Crescent Trust, checks observance of anti-coronavirus SOPs at one of the charitable schools run by his non-profit in Wangi Goth area of Karachi, Pakistan, on Thursday, September 17, 2020. Image Credit: Supplied

Karachi: Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi has said that the government and private schools should strictly follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) against the spread of coronavirus as any leniency would create irreversible damage to the health of students and teachers.

“These SOPs should not be neglected as our future will be at stake if schools will not follow the guidelines against the spread of coronavirus,” said Shahid Afridi, while speaking at a press conference on Thursday at one of the eight charitable schools run by his charity Shahid Afridi Foundation (SAF) in the suburban Wangi Goth area of Karachi on Manghopir Road.

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The SAF runs these schools in collaboration with another non-profit Green Crescent Trust (GCT) that has a network of 150 such charitable schools in Sindh having enrollment of 29,000 students from poor families.

Shahid Afridi and GCT Chief Executive Officer Zahid Saeed checked implementation of the SOPs at the school before their joint press conference.

Afridi, who is also the Global Chairman of SAF, said that if the schools didn’t follow the SOPs then there would always be a risk that the government had to once more order closure of the educational institutions if they emerged as a source of the spread of the coronavirus in Pakistan. “If schools are closed again it will be a massive setback to the education being imparted to our children,” he said.

He said that strict observance of SOPs would also be necessary because any violation of the COVID-19 safety precautions would endanger the health of millions of students, their families, teachers, and other school staff. “These school-goers are our future as we will be directly responsible for threatening the lives and health of our coming generations if we fail to implement these SOPs,” he said. “I urge all the relevant stakeholders, most importantly, the administration of schools to ensure implementation of these SOPs.”

Monitoring mechanism

He said that the federal and provincial governments should show responsibility and come up with a proper monitoring mechanism including a penal system to ensure that these SOPs were implemented by all the educational institutions.

He appealed to concerned donors, philanthropists, corporate sector, and well-off persons to come forward and wholeheartedly support the joint charitable drive of SAF and GCT to educate children of the needy families in Sindh. “The cause to educate children of the deserving families on charitable basis has been severely affected as the economy drastically shrank due to COVID-19,” he said.

“We have been imparting education to children of the neglected parts of Sindh for the past 26 years but the past six months have been seriously challenging for us due to the economic setback caused by the pandemic as survival of genuine charities like the GCT becomes a challenge,” said GCT CEO Zahid Saeed on the occasion.

He hoped that concerned corporate sector and philanthropists would once again come forward to make sure that there would be continuity of education of 29,000 underprivileged students enrolled in the schools of his charity.

“We have been sharing the burden of the state and the government as we strive hard to enrol out-of-school children in Sindh who are in millions, so every resourceful person or organization, which wants progress and development of Pakistan, should support us with an open heart,” he said.