As the third wave of Covid-19 gains regretful momentum in Pakistan, the government announced a new set of measures to try to curb the virus. Among these measures is a revised stance on the upcoming May and June CAIE session, as Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood announced that all exams in the country would be postponed till June 15.
The CAIE have been the talk of the town, with students taking the internet by storm and compelling influential adults to speak up in their favour.
The announcement came during a press conference, announcing the decision reached at a National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) meeting. It was also revealed that the government will review the situation closer to June 15, and the exams that have been or will be cancelled will have to be taken in the October and November session.
The news was welcomed and several celebrities spoke about the matter, tweeting out in support of their fans.
Singer and song writer Asim Azhar, who probably remembers his own school days like yesterday, because they were, lauded the decision. Like a responsible adult, however, he urged the students to refrain from large gatherings.
Actor Adnan Siddiqui called it a wise decision, saying that the students' concern has never been giving exams, but instead the spread of the virus.
Actor and model Ayesha Omar also shared her delight.
Actor Aijaz Aslam, however, had some criticism. His tweet displayed a genuine understanding of the student's concerns and fears, and also takes us to our next point.
Activist Jibran Nasir, who has been very actively involved in this episode, backing the kids, also offered his two cents.
The students perhaps are not enjoying and celebrating this news, unlike adult observers' common opinion. They don't believe their concerns have been met.
The students' concern was sitting for exams.
Lawyer and activist Hassaan Niazi was also of the opinion that the government's stance is not the best one.
This is unlike global practice during the current crises, as most countries, including neighbouring India, have called off the exams moving to a school-assessed grading system. In past experience, these results have been better than those scored by students attempting the exams, and that threatens our students' futures. For those applying to universities abroad, this means competing with students who have grades better than their own due to a different government policy.
As for senior A-Level students applying to Pakistani universities, the government has assured admissions to local universities will be open till January to accommodate the delay.
For students in the final year of their O-Levels, A-Level admissions fall into question. It is common practice to switch schools for A-Levels, as dedicated A-Level colleges are a standard across Pakistan. Not giving their exams during this session, and instead waiting for the winter session means they won't be able to start their A-Levels on time.
That delay would be carried forward to their A-Levels, and yet again arise when they apply for universities.
The students demand that the government cancels the exams all together, and award them school assessed grades in August 2021, so that their education continues unhindered.
To be fair though, there are also students who beg to differ and feel school assessed grades may not be the best way to go. A popular criticism has been that in such a scenario teachers' personal biases and favouritism goes unchecked. Referring to the fiasco last year, they argue that often deserving candidates end up with grades that do not reflect their learning and/or effort, while students who find themselves in the teachers' good books get undeserving grades.