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Pakistan courts dismiss petition seeking cancellation of O/A Level exams

Courts can't interfere in policy matters

SAMAA | - Posted: Apr 23, 2021 | Last Updated: 8 months ago
Posted: Apr 23, 2021 | Last Updated: 8 months ago

Photo: Online

The Islamabad High Court and Sindh High Court have dismissed the petition seeking cancellation of in-person O/A Level exams across the country.

IHC’s Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that courts can’t interfere in policy matters, adding that the case can be sent to the National Command Operation Center. The federal government can’t issue instructions to Cambridge, the judge remarked.

The students said that it is too risky for them to take exams in person, adding that the exams should be moved online.

Earlier this month, the government announced that O Level exams will begin on May 10, while As and A Level assessments will begin on April 26.

Sindh High Court

The Sindh High Court dismissed the petition in a short order. During the hearing, Additional Attorney General Kashif Paracha said that the petition should be dismissed as it doesn’t make sense to cancel the exams. The physical classes for students of classes 9 to 12 weren’t even suspended, he added.

Many cases have been reported in Lahore but the virus situation is better in Karachi, the Cambridge lawyer argued.

Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar asked what will happen if the Sindh High Court and Lahore High Court give separate rulings in the case.

The Cambridge lawyer said that students who don’t want to appear for the exams right now can take them in October-November. “We won’t take any additional fees for them.”

On Thursday, the Karachi court said that it will announce its verdict after the Lahore High Court’s rules on the matter.

The lawyer for the Cambridge International Assessment assured the court that all SOPs will be followed during the exams, adding that the British Council is content with the SOPs.

On April 10, Karachi students approached the Sindh High Court to cancel O/A Level exams and instead evaluate students through School Assessed Grades.

The petition said that conducting exams poses a threat to thousands of students by exposing them to the risk of contracting coronavirus which is unlawful under the following sections of the Constitution of Pakistan.

  • Section 4: Right of individuals to be dealt with in accordance with the law, etc
  • Section 8: Laws inconsistent with or in derogation of Fundamental Rights to be void
  • Section 9: Security of person
  • Section 25: Equality of citizens and Right to education

The petition stated that Cambridge should take up the option of evaluating students through the method of School Assessed Grades. This means that students should be graded on the basis of the online classes and assignments.

School Assessed Grades

Under this system, the schools will work with the international board and will follow a four-step process to provide each student with their grades.

Here’s an overview of how that will happen:

  • Cambridge will ask schools to provide an assessed grade based on the level of achievement that each student has demonstrated.
  • To assess this grade, schools will have to identify a portfolio of three substantial pieces of work from each student in every syllabus.
  • Schools will be asked to submit grades to Cambridge International between mid-May and late June.
  • The board will ask schools to share details of the internal quality assurance processes they have followed while collating portfolios of student work, and when submitting assessed grades.
  • Cambridge International will carry out external quality assurance checks on grades.

The pieces of work the school will submit as evidence can include mock school exams, assignments, essays, and practical tasks.

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