Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood on Wednesday said that board exams for students of classes nine and 10 would be held after July 10 only for elective subjects and mathematics, while exams for students of classes 11 and 12 would be held for elective subjects only.
“This decision has been taken as students have different streams and directions so they will sit in exams related only to their particular subject of interest,” he said.
In April, the education ministry had cancelled all exams in the country till June 15. The only exception was granted to A2 students, who wanted to appear for the purpose of applying to foreign universities.
At the time, the minister had tweeted that the decision had been taken to address the "health concerns of students and parents".
"All exams cancelled till June 15 and depending on the spread of the disease may even go further," he wrote.
Addressing the press conference on Wednesday, Mahmood said the provincial education ministers wanted exam results to be finalised and released by the third week of September.
Acknowledging students' grievances regarding their course work being incomplete, Mahmood said this was a result of the frequent closure and reopening of schools. "It was necessary to shut schools in view of the Covid-19 situation. There was also a risk associated with reopening schools due to fear of students contracting the disease," he reasoned.
The federal minister reiterated the committee's earlier decision not to promote any student without exams, saying "we still stand by that decision".
"We then reduced the syllabus by 40 per cent," he said, adding that the overall curriculum and nature of assessments had been modified keeping the challenges in mind. “The 9th grade and 10th grade exams will be taken in elective subjects, and mathematics will also be a part of it. Therefore, exams will be held in four subjects," he said, while the exams of 11th and 12th grades will be held only in elective subjects.
In a tweet later, the minister explained that "the marks percentage taken by students in elective subjects will also be proportionately allocated to subjects in which exams is not being taken."
The federal minister further said that the exams will start after July 10 in order to give students at least three to four weeks to prepare. “We are taking this decision to make the most of the current situation when Covid-19 cases have dropped," he said, adding that the committee had also decided that all teachers would be vaccinated before the exams.
Mahmood also tweeted that all universities are allowed to open from Monday.
Mode of assessment
Speaking about the mode of assessment, Mahmood said that the committee was of the belief that an external examination was the fairest assessment.
"In England, parents are dissatisfied with assessed grades and are challenging them in court, but they have no reservation on external exams," he said. "In our context, the majority of students are the ones who study just before two months of exams. If we do not take exams, it means student won't study at all."
He said that A2 exams were also conducted, in which around 30,000 students had appeared from across Pakistan. "The next exams will be held from 26 July to August 6," he announced.
Besides, those students who will appear for their A2 exams in the October-November session will be considered for provisional admissions by different colleges, he said.