Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood on Sunday said that despite the mounting pressure on the education ministry from students who demanded the cancellation of examination given the rise in coronavirus cases, all provincial educational ministers agreed on going ahead with the exams as per the schedule.
He said it is not his place to make decisions related to exams from a health standpoint as such decisions are taken by medical experts.
Speaking to a private TV Channel, Shafqat Mehmood said that Cambridge examinations will start tomorrow as per the schedule, adding that the government will ensure that all coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) are strictly followed in the examination halls.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and [action will be initiated] if the SOPs are violated during the exams,” the minister said.
Answering a question related to the growing number of coronavirus cases in the country and the potential risk that conducting exams could pose under the circumstances, Shafqat Mehmood said that the health of the citizens always comes first but since a small number of students are taking the Cambridge exams in Pakistan, the National Command Operations Centre (NCOC) suggested going ahead with the decision to conduct the exams.
“The decision was taken in view of the fact that the number of students taking the Cambridge exams is small, therefore, SOPs can be managed,” the minister said.
The minister said that during the last meeting of the educational ministers, which was held on April 18, all the provinces were on the same page regarding exams.
“I even wanted matric and intermediate classes to continue so that exams could be held,” he said. “However, the NCOC went against that suggestion in the light of citizens’ health.”
The minister said that Cambridge even gave the option to students in Pakistan to take the exams in the October/ November session without having to pay any additional fee.
“The only exception applied to AS level students who wish to apply to foreign universities and need their grades [before the deadlines],” he said.
When questioned as to why he, and other education ministers, advocate holding exams under the circumstances, Shafqat Mehmood cited last year’s example and said that whatever happened to students’ grades was a mess but added that when the NCOC suggests something [in the light of public health] then the education ministry complies with that decision.
He also said that matriculation and intermediate examinations will be held in the third or fourth week of May.
Last week, Shafqat Mehmood took to Twitter and announced that Cambridge International Exams will go ahead as per the schedule. He also shared a notification issued by the Cambridge Assessment International Education regarding the decision.