Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood speaks at the press conference on Wednesday. —White Star
Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood speaks at the press conference on Wednesday. —White Star

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Federal Education Shafqat Mahmood said on Wednesday that all examinations in the country, including O and A Levels exams, will be postponed until June 1 in the wake of the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Addressing a press conference at the Press Information Department, he said that the government was taking every possible step to protect people and its students because of the extraordinary situation around the world.

He said all Pakistani educational board exams, O and A Level exams and other tests such as the GAT have been postponed. International educational bodies and Pakistani institutions will adjust their schedules, he said.

In an attempt to save students’ time, he said, universities will turn to online teaching methods.

Mr Mahmood said the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has constituted three committees to help universities develop content and provide technical support for online teaching.

The education ministry will also try to obtain slots from Pakistan Television to deliver lectures to students, he said.

Workers at a petrol station in a locality in Islamabad wear masks and gloves. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
Workers at a petrol station in a locality in Islamabad wear masks and gloves. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

Institutions will remain closed until April 5, and a meeting of interprovincial education ministers on March 27 will review the situation.

The decision on whether institutions will reopen or remain closed will be taken after consultations with all stakeholders and in view of the situation.

He said that school and university teachers are exempt from physical attendance but should be available when required by administrations for specific tasks.

Explaining the situation surrounding Cambride O and A Level exams, Mr Mahmood said it was decided that these would not be conducted before June 1. He said Cambridge has two examination periods; one before June and another in October.

He said they were being asked to conduct the exams of Pakistani studies in June and July.

Mr Mehmood said COVID-19 spreads through gatherings, meetings, handshakes and so on, and the government has taken several steps to avoid such gatherings.

The federal education board has been toldnot to carry out group marking. He praised all educational institutions and seminaries for following government directives to close until April 5.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2020