Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood on Sunday said that it is not his place to make decisions related to exams from a health standpoint as such decisions are taken by medical experts.
Speaking during Geo News' programme "Naya Pakistan" about holding exams despite students' protest given the rise in coronavirus cases across the country, Shafqat Mehmood said that Cambridge examinations will start tomorrow as per the schedule.
"The government will ensure that all coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) are strictly followed in the examination halls. We are closely monitoring the situation and [action will be initiated] if the SOPs are violated during the exams," the minister said.
Shafqat Mehmood said that the health of the citizens always is the government's top priority but since the small number of students taking the Cambridge exams in Pakistan is small, the National Command Operations Centre (NCOC) suggested going ahead with the decision to conduct the exams.
The minister said that during the last meeting of the educational ministers, which was held on April 18, all the provinces were on the same page regarding exams.
"I even wanted matric and intermediate classes to continue so that exams could be held," he said. "However, the NCOC went against that suggestion in the light of citizens' health."
The minister said that Cambridge even gave the option to students in Pakistan to take the exams in the October/ November session without having to pay any additional fee.
"The only exception applied to AS level students who wish to apply to foreign universities and need their grades [before the deadlines]," he said.
When questioned as to why he, and other education ministers, advocate holding exams under the circumstances, Shafqat Mehmood cited last year's example and said that whatever happened to students' grades was a mess but added that when the NCOC suggests something [in the light of public health] then the education ministry complies with that decision.
He also said that matriculation and intermediate examinations will be held in the third or fourth week of May.
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