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August 14, 2020

Students seek PM’s help for reversal of ‘unjust’ grading by CAIE

Islamabad

August 14, 2020

Islamabad : Rejecting Cambridge University’s allegedly ‘skewed, unjust, and discriminatory’ assessment criteria, hundreds of O and A Level students from elite schools of Islamabad and Rawalpindi gathered outside the National Press Club here Thursday, urging Prime Minister Imran Khan to support their demand for reassessment of grades based on course work, past results, and predicted grades submitted to Cambridge by their respective institutions.

Backed by parents and teachers, the young protestors marched on the road, apparently unaffected by the heat and rising humidity levels. They criticized Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) for adopting a flawed grading methodology, completely inconsistent with past performance, course work and predicted grades, which were supposed to have been the key determinants of the 2020assessments due to cancellation of formal exams in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The students were carrying placards with inscriptions such as ‘Stop playing with our futures,’ ‘Brown Students Matter. Ban CAIE,’ ‘Justice against unfair grading by Cambridge,’ ‘Who said Britain ever stopped ruling over us,’ and ‘#FIRSTEICNOWCIE.’ On a lighter note, one placard read: “Ghabraana Nahin.’ The students expressed having great expectations from Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“We want this matter to be raised and resolved at the government level. So many of us have been rejected by foreign universities which had made conditional offers for admission, based on past grades. We are not even sure if they will reimburse the hefty admission fees submitted to them,” expressed a protesting student.

“Cambridge has failed all of its students worldwide; we have all received unjust grades that we do not deserve. They asked us for evidence that they did not use. Instead, they used a letter generator to award grades. Students who got distinctions in O and AS levels now have Cs, Ds, Es, and Us. This is totally unacceptable and unfair,” complained a disgruntled AS student.

“We need to apply for admission at NUST, and since the merit is too high and equivalence deduction in Pakistan already gives a great disadvantage to O/A level students, we urge Cambridge to reassess and fix their formula and to save us from needless anxiety,” a group of students appealed.

Parents were no less perturbed. “My son’s predicted grades were 3As and 1B, and he has been awarded 1 A and 3 Cs. He is devastated. This is going to have a huge impact on his admissions and future career; not to mention the mental traumatization that all students have been subjected to at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has unnerved the younger generation in particular. As seen in the UK and Scotland, where Cambridge has given several concessions to students (such as allowing them to choose their results between last assessed and awarded grades in AS, mock results/predicted grades), our government and its regulatory bodies must also obtain similar concessions for Pakistani students, given that they do not even have the right to individual appeals,” remarked the mother of an AS level student studying at Roots.

There was an endless queue of parents, students and teachers eager to have their statements recorded in the hope for redress. “Please know, Mr. Prime Minister, that we are now 18 years old and enjoy the right to vote. You have always been stating that the future belongs to youth. If the government does not stand by us now, please know that we too will not stand by you during election time,” remarked a student of City School.

Apparently, students are unaware of the expected grades sent to Cambridge by their own teachers, who claim having signed an undertaking not to disclose these. A majority of the students believes they would have scored higher than their predicted results, had the exams not been canceled.

An AS student, Muhammad Shahnawaz, who did his GCSE in London with 9 A*s and 3 As, narrated his ordeal: “I came to Pakistan from London in November 2018 for the first time; the change was huge. As a result, I wasn’t able to perform as well as I had wanted to, so I retook my AS. From having good GCSE grades, to now being given 2 Us and 1 E in my Sciences, I am nothing short of absolutely drained. I need justice as I am applying for medicine in Pakistan, and without my AS, I don’t have grounds for a good equivalency.”

Articulating the demands of the parents, one of them said, “We cannot believe that the Cambridge Board has completely overturned the grades sent to them by schools; they have not even considered the performance or educational standing of the coursework done by students during the year. Without a sitting exam, coming up with a formula that destroys the students’ future, is highly unfair. These grades will adversely affect our children’s admission prospects. Our demands are that the Cambridge Board over-turn these grades, revise its formula, re-grade each student, and assess them in light of their predicated grades.”