NCOC to discuss poor SOP compliance outside CAIE exam centres: Shafqat

Published April 27, 2021
In this file photo, federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood addresses a press conference. —  DawnNewsTV/File
In this file photo, federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood addresses a press conference. — DawnNewsTV/File

Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood said on Tuesday that compliance with standard operating procedures (SOPs) outside Cambridge exam centres was "poor", adding that the issue would be discussed by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).

"Permission to hold exams was conditional on strict SOP observance. As more reports have come in, it is obvious that outside the exam centres the compliance is poor. This and the latest corona spread reports will be discussed in a special NCOC meeting in the afternoon," he said.

The minister's statement comes amid growing calls from students, politicians and celebrities to cancel O and A level exams in light of a rapid increase in coronavirus cases and deaths.

Read: Mehwish Hayat and Ali Zafar urge govt to cancel exams

Over the weekend, students used the hashtag #NCOCcancelexam to dispel the impression that they were making the demand due to being under-prepared, explaining that it was due to the spike in Covid-19 cases in the country.

However, exams went ahead on Monday with several purported videos on social media showing a large number of parents gathered outside exam centres and a large number of children inside examination halls.

A day earlier, Mahmood said that those not comfortable with the current situation could switch to the October/November cycle "without any extra charge" and urged parents and students to peruse Cambridge's policy.

He had also lashed out at "some nobodies" for taking advantage of the situation.

"Some nobodies who have jumped into this situation for cheap publicity are going so far as to distribute fake pictures of examination halls.

"Their attempt to spread confusion has failed and will continue to fail because they are not interested in students but self projection," he had said.

The minister, along with the head of the British Council and Cambridge Pakistan, had also visited exam centres.

"SOPs were being strictly observed including social distancing etc. But, the number of people in one room was large. Have asked them to drastically reduce it," he had said.

Last week, the Islamabad High Court (IHC), Lahore High Court (LHC), Peshawar High Court (PHC) and Sindh High Court (SHC) had dismissed separate petitions challenging the physical presence of students in O and A levels exams and seeking a switch to school-assessed grades.

The petitions were filed by students in each of the four high courts against the Cambridge Assessment International Education's (CAIE) decision and the government's approval for holding physical exams in Pakistan.

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