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O/A-Level students in Pakistan want the international board to cancel the upcoming May/June 2021 exams as the country grapples with the third wave of the coronavirus.

On Monday, #cancelcieexams2021 became one of the top Twitter trends in the country.

“In 2021, students have suffered the most,” an A-Level student, who refused to be named, said. “The syllabus of most of our courses has not been completed yet and most of us are suffering from anxiety and depression because of the pandemic. Now, as the third wave of the coronavirus continues to spread, how can the government allow the exams to be conducted?”

Students currently enrolled in A2 are the ones who are at more risk. We do not have As exams as our backup. Our whole grade of Alevels is dependent on A2. If our grade gets messed up, we have to REPEAT THE WHOLE ALEVELS. Delay exams, give us time to prepare. #cancelcieexams2021— Shermeen (@Shermeenejaz) March 15, 2021

@Shafqat_Mahmood we will keep protesting and keep on opposing your idea of opening schools until and unless you postpone or cancel the exams and test the students on mocks or whatever #cancelcieexams2021 pic.twitter.com/8AcJPzwuI1— xxxx (@xxxx67425542) March 15, 2021

These are the reasons for our protest #cancelcieexams2021 https://t.co/qMaleYq9OZ pic.twitter.com/LYc6VhMCif— CancelCieExams2021 (@CancelCaie2021) March 14, 2021

My friend lost my father today due to the new variant. It is so saddening. So fucking sickening. How is he supposed to give exams with the threat of the same variant looming around the exam centers? Your measures are measly. @CambridgeInt #cancelcieexams2021— Syed Rafid Kabir (@G2Rafid) March 14, 2021

Earlier this month, the government decided to close down schools in Punjab, Islamabad, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after experts said that the country was battling the third wave of coronavirus.

Federal Education Shafqat Mahmood said that, despite this, Intermediate, Matric, and Cambridge exams will be held as per schedule.

But the students are not having any of it.

“My college was closed for so long and online classes are not as effective. Classes weren’t held properly and everything was confusing,” Zehra, a student at a private college in Karachi, told SAMAA Digital.

“Last year I was really confident before my CIEs because we actually studied and had our normal mocks, but now the exams are in a month and we haven’t even covered the syllabus yet.”

Another student, Ayesha Badar, said that the “real” disruption caused by the pandemic was the constant switching between online and on-campus classes. “Cambridge could’ve easily done something to help us. For example, cutting down the syllabus. Excluding some topics. Reducing the workload. But it did not.”

All the students protesting against the exams have started a petition addressed to Mahmood. Here are the reasons they have cited for their demands:

Online classes were not up to the standard of education required.Schools struggled with delivering curriculum due to on/off schedules. Students and their parents who contracted the virus found it difficult to cope up with their studies.Hostel students who were forced back home didn’t have a proper environment to study.Most countries have promoted students based on predicted grades.Local boards reduced the exam syllabus or delayed assessments but CIE students didn’t have these options.Other students raised concerns that if they end up with bad grades, which happened with a lot of students last year, it will make it difficult for them to get into their dream universities.

The Cambridge O and A-Level exams in Pakistan this year will begin on April 26 and end on June 11.

CIE exams cancelled in UK

Another point raised by students is that the international board has cancelled exams in over 10 countries across the world.

According to Schoolsweek, Cambridge International is opting for teacher assessments for its IGCSE qualifications in the United Kingdom.

The board said that it will go for teachers’ assessments in a “very small” number of countries and regions where it will be “impossible” for the exams to go ahead.

Third Covid-19 wave in Pakistan

Special Assistant to PM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan announced that the third wave of the virus has begun in the country.

Pakistan has reported more than 2,000 cases for the fourth consecutive day today. A total of 2,253 cases and 29 deaths were recorded over 24 hours. The death toll has reached 13,508.

The highest number of cases have been emerging from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Following this, smart lockdowns have been imposed in multiple areas of Punjab, Peshawar, and Islamabad.

Schools in these areas have been closed for two weeks as well. On Sunday, the government decided to close the National Assembly and Senate secretariat till March 16.

Abdul Gh Lone