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#ShafqatMahmood trends in Pakistan as CIE exams start

British Council issues SOPs for venues, candidates

SAMAA | - Posted: Apr 26, 2021 | Last Updated: 9 months ago
Posted: Apr 26, 2021 | Last Updated: 9 months ago

Photo: Shaqat Mahmood/Twitter

The Cambridge exams for A Level students started across Pakistan on Monday, April 26 despite the reservations raised by the students.

Many students said that they weren’t ready for the exams as the course wasn’t covered properly in online classes. Others said that they were scared to go to the examination halls as the country battles the third wave of the coronavirus.

They even approached the high courts in Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore but their petitions were dismissed.

Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood announced that Cambridge exams for A Level students will start on April 26, while for O Level students on May 10. The decision was made after the federal government held a meeting with the Cambridge board.

Mahmood wished students the very best as they take their examinations. “These are tough times and difficult decisions have been made keeping the students’ best interest in view,” he said in a tweet.

With regards to AS students, “I have asked Cambridge to reconsider the 13-month condition for taking remaining papers considering the extraordinary situation,” he said. “I am very hopeful that a positive decision will come soon.”

Soon after this, #ShafqatMahmood became one of the top trends on Twitter. Many students still said that he should stop risking the lives of the students, others claimed that SOPs were not being implemented at various examination centres.

Mahmood remarked that “some nobodies who have jumped into this situation for cheap publicity are going so far as to distribute fake pictures of examination halls.” He claimed that their attempt to spread confusion has failed and will continue to fail because they are not interested in students but in self-projection.

Options available to students

On April 25, the Cambridge Assessment International Education released a statement in which it said that it has provided various options to Cambridge schools and students to support them through the pandemic.

  • In some syllabuses, candidates could take the component in a way that is easier to manage.
  • Schools could apply for exemptions where they feel candidates were not able to complete the syllabus.
  • Candidates can choose not to take a component but can still receive an overall syllabus grade.
  • Students can receive a grade when for any reason they miss some exams. Cambridge will give results to all students who have taken at least one component of the subject in the May/June 2021 exam series.
  • Students can defer to a future exam series with the same fee they paid for May/June 2021. The decision is theirs. They have till June 17 to make the decision.
  • Popular subjects in Pakistan will be offered in October/November 2021 exam series to facilitate students who decide to defer.

The British Council has announced the following precautionary measures for students, venue staff, and invigilators.

SOPs for venues

  • Venue to be sanitised before exams.
  • Desks should be placed at a distance of two metres.
  • Mandatory temperature checks for all.
  • All staff members must wear masks.
  • Hand sanitisers and disinfectant wipes should be available.

SOPs for candidates

  • Candidates must be informed about early arrival and late departure to ensure social distancing and crowd control.
  • Candidates quick scanning and ID check.
  • Candidates to directly enter exam halls and wait at their designated desks. There will be no waiting areas for candidates.
  • All candidates must be wearing masks.
  • Candidates must exit in batches with a five-minute gap.

SOPs for staff

  • They must wear masks.
  • Use gloves while handing over questions papers and answer booklets.
  • Regular use of hand sanitiser.
  • Ensure social distancing while performing their duties.
  • Only one staff member will travel in a vehicle along with a driver.

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