Tuesday Apr 27 2021
Web Desk

No exams until June 15 due to rising coronavirus cases: Shafqat Mehmood

Web Desk
Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan. Photo: Screengrab via Geo News. 
  • Govt, in the light of NCOC's suggestion, has decided to cancel all exams until June 15. 
  • Minister Shafqat Mehmood says O and A level students will be able to appear in their exams in the October/ November session.
  • An exception applies to A2 students who must take the exams right now following strict coronavirus SOPs, says the minister. 

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan on Tuesday announced that as per the suggestion of the National Command and Operation Centre, all board exams have been postponed till June 15 given the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country.

The minister and the SAPM were holding a press conference related to Cambridge exam centres as well as the overall situation of infections in the country after attending a special session of the NCOC.

During the press conference, Mehmood said that from April 18 (when the last meeting of the education ministry was held) until now, the number of coronavirus cases has rapidly risen, therefore, the government has decided to postpone all exams until June 15.

He said the country seems to be headed towards a complete lockdown in areas witnessing particularly high positivity ratios.

"Exams of 9, 10, 11 and 12, which were supposed to begin from the end of May, have been delayed further," the minister said. "No board exams will be held till mid-June (June 15)."

Mehmood added that another meeting of the NCOC will decide in the third week of May whether these exams will be postponed further or not.

"So if exams take place after June 15, they may continue in July and even August," the minister explained.

Cambridge exams

Speaking about Cambridge exams, Mehmood said that O level exams will now be held in the October and November cycle and the same will be the case for A and AS level exams.

"Those students who wish to seek admission in Pakistani universities will be able to do so until January as the government will take the universities on board in this regard," the minister said. 

He, however, said students of A2 must appear in the examination right now, as deferment would lead to a wasted year. 

"In this regard, the government has issued directives that no exam venue will have more than 50 people [to maintain adequate social distancing]."

"Yesterday, we saw that some Cambridge exam centres violated the coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs)," he said. "Therefore, from Monday onwards, the government will ensure the deployment of law enforcement agencies outside of the exam centres to ensure compliance with the SOPs."

At the end of the press conference, Shafqat Mehmood stressed that [irrespective of everything] exams are very important for students because they work hard throughout the year.

"All the education ministers unanimously decided that no promotions can be granted without exams, but for the sake of facilitating student [in times of crisis] the exams will be held in the October/ November session or after June/ July [in case of local students]," Mehmood said. 

The Cambridge examinations started on Monday amid strong calls from the students and their parents to cancel exams considering the worsening COVID-19 situation in the country.

Minister Shafqat Mehmood had said that the permission to hold exams was conditional on strict SOP observance. 

“As more reports have come in, it is obvious that outside the exam centres the compliance is poor," Shafqat Mehmood earlier announced on Twitter. 

"This and the latest corona spread reports will be discussed in a special NCOC meeting today afternoon,” he had said in a statement posted on his official Twitter account.

'Only 50 students allowed at a centre'

On Monday, an NCOC session, headed by its chairperson Asad Umar and co-chaired by National Coordinator Lieutenant General Hamood-Uz-Zaman Khan, was held in Islamabad.

The NCOC, in a statement, said the examinations were being conducted in line with the Ministry of Education's decisions. The forum directed that not more than 50 students should be allowed in a centre.

Meanwhile, in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi, violation of coronavirus SOPs was seen, as several students did not wear face masks — essential equipment to keep the virus at bay. The parents were also present outside the exam halls waiting for their children.