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Determined to hold annual board examinations for students of secondary and higher secondary classes, the government on Wednesday scaled down the exams to only elective subjects which would begin after July 10 across the country.
Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood told a press conference after chairing an Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC) at the Higher Education Commission that the syllabus of matriculation and intermediate level has been reduced in order to facilitate the students.
The government is firm to hold exams this year, after a giving a move over to the students last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The exams are being held this year amid declining number of fresh cases, as the country successfully battled the third wave of the infectious disease.
Education boards in the provinces hold exams for classes IX to XII – Matric and Intermediate. The curricula are divided in two parts – compulsory subjects, such as Urdu and English languages besides Islamiat and Pakistan Studies etc, and the elective subjects relating arts or sciences etc.
Mahmood told the press conference that exams of XIth and Xth class – Matric – would be taken in only in four elective subjects. Similarly, he added, the exams of XIth and XIIth classes would also be held only in elective subjects.
“The exam of remaining subjects will not be held. “The marks percentage taken by students in elective subjects will also be proportionately allocated to the [compulsory] subjects in which exams are not being taken,” he added.
According to the minister, the exams would start after July 10. He went on to say that the the exams of Xth and XIIth classes would be held in the first phase and after their completions, the exams of IXth and XIth would be conducted. “There will gap in each paper,” he added.
In order to minimise the loss educational activities because of closures of schools due to Covid-19 pandemic, Mahmood said that the syllabus of matriculation and intermediate levels have been curtailed.
“The students have a genuine complain of not completing their course work. Because of the closures of schools, time and again, the students could not pay attention to their studies, the minister lamented. “Most of the students have just two months before of the exams.”
The minister emphasised that the exams were mandatory to minimise the loss of learning. “We have the experience of promoting students without exams,” he said, adding: “Now it had been decided that no grades would be awarded without exams.”
“We had to take difficult decisions for closure and opening of educational institutions as the pandemic had negative effects on education. These all difficult decisions were taken unanimously in the IPEMC meeting,” he added.
Responding to a question, the minister told reporters that the issue of non-completion of the course was also discussed during the meeting. “We reduced the curricula by 40% a few months ago to make it easier for teachers and students to prepare for the examinations.”
In conclusion, the minister said that the latest IPEMC decision was final and there would be nor further review. “Students should prepare [for the exams]... we have already been very lenient with the legitimate demands of the students... this (the decision) concerns the future of our children.”
Meanwhile, sources close to Sindh education minister confirmed to The Express Tribune examinations of Matric and Inter students would be held in only elective subjects. They added that the dates of exams in Sindh would be decided within the next few days.
Earlier, in series of tweets, the minister announced the decisions taken during the IPEMC meeting. “We took some important decisions today Re exams. For 9/10, exam in elective subjects plus math. For 11/12 only elective subjects,” he said in one of his tweets.
“Exams pushed to after July 10 with 10 and 12 grade exams on priority. These decisions are final. No change,” he added. “The marks percentage taken by students in elective subjects will also be proportionately allocated to subjects in which exams is not being taken.”
Responding to a query from twitter user as to why there was no announcement regarding the universities, the minister wrote on the microbligging website: “All universities are allowed to open from Monday.”
Responding to another question, Mahmood said the government wanted results of the exams issued by the third week of September to facilitate the students get admissions to the universities. He also said that said no teacher could perform exams duties without getting the coronavirus vaccine.