No exams

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THE Government announced on Thursday that there would be no matriculation and intermediate examinations this year due to Coronavirus pandemic and students from grade 9 to 12 would be promoted or granted marks in accordance with a policy formulated for this purpose. Addressing a news conference along with Provincial Education Ministers, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood explained the criteria for promotion of students to next classes without exams this year.
All schools in the country stand closed at least till July 15 when, of course, the decision would be reviewed on the basis of ground situation. All educational institutions are closed for months and no one knows for sure when the normal activities would resume as so far there is no reprieve in the spread of the virus, which is taking more and more toll with the passage of time. In the given situation, it is quite obvious that the government cannot take the risk of opening the educational institutions, putting life of the students at risk. Countries across the globe are revising their strategies for studies and examinations and, therefore, the Education Ministry deserves appreciation for undertaking an extensive consultation process with all stakeholders especially the provinces and announcing a consensus policy in this regard. It is, perhaps, the only point on which there are no differences between the Centre and the provinces. Closure of educational institutions is causing great loss to all students, majority of whom are spending their time at home in a non-productive manner. The government launched education channel for imparting lessons to students from grade one to twelve on a daily basis and some educational institutions have also initiated online classes but these measures have limited impact on the overall situation.
The Government was left with no choice except to skip exams and promote students to next grades but there was a possibility of conducting physical or online examinations. Although this was a difficult and challenging task yet not impossible in this modern age as exams could have been conducted in a shorter mode while observing social distancing and adopting safety precautions. This is because promotion to next scales without examinations is feared to remain a stigma for all students especially those of class nine to twelve for their entire career. Otherwise too, this is a stopgap arrangement as some alternative solution will have to be found if the pandemic persists for longer duration. The authorities should, therefore, start work on a strategy for the future. Pakistan is not alone as other countries too are facing similar situation and developing backup systems to continue learning process. Millions of students worldwide are having their education disrupted by the Coronavirus. Schools and universities haven’t faced this level of disruption in generations, but unlike any time in the past, we have the ability to continue education even when schools close because of the technological innovations. The planners should realize that resourceful families and elite class have the options of engaging tutors to help make up for the losses but what about those who are unable to afford even school fee. There is also a realization that sole reliance on online strategy will imply reaching only children from better-off families and the most appropriate strategy would be to use all possible delivery modes with the infrastructure that exists today. Telecommunication companies have a particular role in making their services and technologies available at affordable rates and a system should be devised after taking them on-board.

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