Despite the Covid pandemic wreaking havoc on the Global South — though it is not limited to the Global South — and Pakistan's own cases rising, O and A Level students in the country are being forced to give their exams in person. As the cries to do something grow louder, more celebrities are joining in and supporting our students.
The country's students have been running a comprehensive social media campaign against physical exams, saying the threat of the pandemic is too great to take such risks. It is also correct that the past year has been particularly difficult and disruptive for studies, with online education failing to adequately replace in-person education, in addition to the mental anguish of living through a deadly pandemic. As exam pressure and the stress of a successful future loom large, our students rightfully feel threatened.
"This is a question of our lives," they say, preparing for a world more harsh than that protected inside their schools' fortress like walls.
But they're doing everything else, going to weddings and meeting friends, reply self righteous adults to the students' sharp sighs. Unfortunately they fail to understand how attending weddings and giving exams that decide one's fate are different incidents, especially with the toxic competition that pollutes the world of today. That is not to say that they are justified in attending weddings or other mass gatherings.
In an earlier announcement by Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood, it was revealed that the government has decided to conduct the exams as scheduled, meaning the students' demands were turned down. In response, student-led movements moved the courts, with support from individuals like activist Jibran Nasir and reality TV host Waqar Zaka. Multiple high courts across the country rejected these pleas, citing not wanting to undermine the NCOC as a reason. The students did not like this.
In the new wave of celebrity support that has since followed, we heard Pride of Performance recipient Mehwish Hayat speak in favour of the students.
"Not only is it dangerous with the third wave taking hold but is unfair when education has been so disrupted," she noted, requesting Mahmood to follow other countries in cancelling exams.
Singer Ali Zafar also spoke on the matter.
Nasir, who has already been very vocal and supportive of the cause, isn't done talking just yet.
In response to the backlash, Mahmood tweeted some options for Cambridge students.
He said they can switch to the October/November session instead, but that's not really an option either. The issue won't resolve itself in a few months. Hopefully there will be good news around the corner but for now, students are playing a waiting game.