Cambridge exams and the worsening COVID-19 third wave

Cambridge Assessment International Examinations (CAIE) for Advanced Level (A-Level) have commenced from Monday (today) with strict coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place across the country.

Meanwhile, the PPP-led Sindh government has decided to close all educational institutes in the province from April 29. Murtaza Wahab said all schools, colleges, and universities will remain closed due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

COVID-19 situation in Pakistan

According to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) data, Pakistan reported another 70 deaths and 4,862 cases from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours.

The total number of infections since the pandemic began has reached 800,452. The death toll from the virus has reached 17,187. There were 50,161 samples were tested in the past day, while the country’s overall positivity ratio reduced to 9.61%.

The total number of infections since the pandemic began has reached 800,452. The death toll from the virus has reached 17,187. The total number of active cases in the country has reached 89,219.

Cambridge exams 

Giving their O and A Level examinations is a pivotal moment in every student’s life. This year students are giving their exams under the worsening situation of coronavirus.

In a statement, Cambridge said that they had provided various options for schools and students to support them through the pandemic. “Schools could apply for exemptions where they feel candidates were not able to complete the syllabus due to any reason”, it added.

The statement further said the candidates can choose not to take a component but can still receive an overall syllabus grade. Cambridge will give result to all students who have taken at least one component of a subject in May/June 2021 exam series.

The right decision?

As Pakistan grapples with the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of students appeared for the O and A-Level exams in person — which goes against the SOPs announced earlier this week by the government itself.

While the government decided to close down schools in Punjab, Islamabad, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa this month, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood insists that Intermediate, Matric, and Cambridge exams will be held as per schedule. This does not make any sense.

In comparison to Pakistan, we are told the Cambridge International board has cancelled exams in over 10 countries across the world. Cambridge International said that it will go for teachers’ assessments in a “very small” number of countries where it will be “impossible” for the exams to go ahead. One wonders why Pakistan does not fall in that category.

Student’s appeal

The students and their guardians knocked the doors of the courts to stop the examinations but their petitions were dismissed. Four different high courts turned down the petitions to cancel physical examinations or switch to predicted grades.

This week, #cancelcieexams2021 emerged as one of the top Twitter trends in the country as students tried to get across their point of view. The issue goes beyond the fact that in most schools, the prescribed syllabi has not been taught fully.

Some students have complained that the real disruption caused by the pandemic was the constant switching between online and on-campus classes. They say that the CIE was unmoved by the plight of the students and did nothing to help them.

Final words

Although the concerns of the students are genuine but the effects on their academic career should also be considered. Delaying exams or cancelling them will affect their professional life as well. The organisers should ensure the exams are conducted safely to ease the student’s burden and allow to move forward.