The federal education ministry on Thursday issued a no-objection certificate (NOC) to the British Council to conduct "special" O level exams, which the government had earlier postponed amid a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths, in July-August.
"We issued an NOC today to British Council allowing it to hold special O level exams from July 26 to August 6," federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood tweeted, saying the decision will facilitate O level students to start their A level or FA/FSc studies from September.
"This kind of exam in July is unprecedented and I am happy that Cambridge is arranging it," Mahmood added.
A letter shared by the minister that was sent to the country director of British Council-Pakistan stated that the agency "is fully authorised to conduct [a] mini exam series from July 26, 2021, to August 6, 2021, subject to all approved/notified Covid-19 SOPs existing for 'A' level [exams]".
In a second tweet, Mahmood said the pandemic had "created immense difficulties in all walks of life but [e]specially in education".
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"We have been taking difficult decisions to ensure that education/learning continues. Every decision has pros and cons but for us the interest/welfare of students is always paramount," he added.
In late April, the education minister had announced that no examinations would take place in the country until June 15 as Covid-19 cases and deaths were on a rise.
He also announced the postponement of O and A level exams that had already started and said the exams would now take place in the October-November cycle. However, the government had allowed A2 exams to be held at the time to facilitate the students who wanted to appear for the purpose of applying to foreign universities.
Mahmood had said at the time that the decision to postpone exams had been taken to address the "health concerns of students and parents".
The decision had come after widespread calls from students, activists and politicians for the government to cancel the Cambridge exams in view of the third coronavirus wave.