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The federal government decided on Monday to conduct the board examinations across the country after June 20 “at all costs” with strict implementation of Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs), Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood announced.

The minister said that there would be no promotions to the next class without the examinations. “Class 9 and 11 exams will take place according to the timetable of the respective boards,” he said in a tweet. “No truth in rumours that they will not be held.”

The decision to hold the exams was taken during the Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC), chaired by Mahmood. The meeting was attended by all the provincial education ministers as well as different secretaries via video link.

According to a statement issued after the meeting, it was decided after consultations that no student would be promoted without examinations this year and that examinations would be conducted “at all costs”.

The statement further said that the examinations of grade 10 and 12 would be held in the third week of June. “In case of delay in the results, the universities would open admissions on the basis of provisional certificate,” it added.

The meeting – which came as a follow-up on Tuesday’s meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) that allowed the holding of exams – also decided to reduce the summer vacations this year but allowed the provinces to take a final decision in this regard.

A source from Sindh, who attended the meeting, had told The Express Tribune that two proposals from the Inter Boards Committee of Chairmen (IBCC) regarding the annual examinations of class X and XII were discussed at the meeting.

“The first proposal was to promote 9th and 11th graders to the next classes without examinations in view of the current dire situation of Covid-19 but the education ministers present at the meeting rejected the proposal,” he added.

The sources said that there was no scope for promotion policy and students would have to go through the examination process in any case, after which the second proposal put forward by IBCC was agreed upon following deliberations.

The participants “analysed in detail all options” for holding exams across the country and decided that board exams would be held after June 20. The exact dates for the exams would be announced by the provinces later, the meeting decided.

The federal minister urged the federating units to ensure the timely vaccination of teachers, examination and administrative staff, adding that those who did not have a certificate of vaccination would not be called for invigilation duties.

The meeting also discussed the handing over of staff of Basic Education Community Schools (BESC) and National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) schools to provinces after June 30. The National Education Framework was also shared with the provinces and approved “in principle”.

In his tweet later, Shafqat Mahmood also said that the NCOC had allowed holding of professional exams. “Please apply to Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Islamabad with details of exam centres, number of students and SOPs to be followed. If all arrangements are satisfactory permission will be given promptly,” he added.

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