The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday issued notices to the Federal Ministry of Education, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), and Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) to cancel O and A-Level exams and switch to school assessed grades in light of COVID-19.

The court did this in response to a petition filed on behalf of students by lawyer Muhammad Jibran Nasir.

“Today we’ve filed petition before the hounourable Sindh High Court on behalf of O-Level and A-Level students,” Nasir confirmed on Twitter.

“The SHC was pleased to admit our petition & has issued notices to Education Ministry, NCOC and CIE for 15 April as 17 April is last date to switch to school assessed grades,” he wrote.

Students across the country have been protesting taking exams in the midst of the pandemic. They demand that the government authorises CAIE to switch to school-assessed grading instead of conducting exams, as is being done in multiple other countries where CAIE operates.

Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, after a meeting of the NCOC with all education ministers, announced on Tuesday that all Matric, Intermediate, O and A-Level exams will commence this summer across Pakistan.

Last month, CAIE announced that O and A-Level exams across the country would start on May 10, 2021, after the education minister had requested that the exams be rescheduled in light of COVID-19.

Cambridge allows rescheduling exams

Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE), the British board that conducts O and A-Level exams in Pakistan, has said that students can opt out of the forthcoming May-June exam session if they have COVID-19 related concerns, and resit them in the future without additional payment.

“We have been working closely with the federal and provincial governments, who have given us extensive support and advice, to ensure we run exams safely, and securely for our students,” Cambridge International’s country director for Pakistan Uzma Yousuf was quoted by a local media outlet as saying.

“If a student is not comfortable taking their exams in the May/June 2021 series they can withdraw their entries, and sit any future exam series without any additional financial burden,” she added.

The educational board has recently updated its safety measures in light of the surge in COVID-19 cases in Pakistan. CAIE on Thursday said that it wishes to tell schools, students, and parents that it is working closely with the British Council and all COVID-19 safety measures will be strictly followed in all its exam centres across Pakistan.

British Council Pakistan, the body that arranges external Cambridge exams in the country, had earlier assured Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood that COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) will be adhered to during exams. Heads of the British Council and CAIE had called on the education minister yesterday to offer assurance.


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