Students have been long objecting the scheduled O-Level and A-Level examinations amid the coronavirus pandemic. As Pakistan inches towards another deadly wave of Covid-19, children feel like they are not only not well-prepared for the assessments due to schools remaining shut for the most part of the year, but also fear the crowded examination halls in the midst of the worldwide health crisis. A slew of Pakistani celebrities have also come out in support of the students who are enrolled for this year’s Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) exams in April and May. Following multiple protests at Karachi Press Club and other cities across Pakistan, Federal Education Minister, Shafqat Mahmood, announced that while O-level exams have already started, A-level papers will be held from the third week of May as per schedule. However, this isn’t enough for students either, who are demanding a complete boycott in light of the same.
Want to thank #Cambridge students who participated, rallied and supported a common cause in whichever way. Despite not winning the Court case I congratulate for making #Govt accountable and asserting yourself as a political stakeholder. My video message:https://t.co/GU3dTem7sO
— M. Jibran Nasir (@MJibranNasir) April 23, 2021
Peshawar to ISB and now Sindh high court ordered that exams will not be cancelled, my apology we tried but it’s @ImranKhanPTI , Prime minister is the one who can cancel it ,khan sahab sari fame apko hi miley gi don’t worry but relief de dou students ko #ImrankhancancleEXAMS
— Waqar Zaka (@ZakaWaqar) April 23, 2021
Would it not be better to consider cancelling exams,or to wait for the wave to subside? The curve needs to be flattened. In person examinations puts the entire nation at risk of transmission,esp at this crucial time 😷🙏🏼 @Shafqat_Mahmood #cancelexamspakistan2021 #StayHomeStaySafe https://t.co/s7mfEDT6OQ
— Momina Mustehsan (@MominaMustehsan) April 23, 2021
We have lost countless lives, but there have been other casualties as real: mental healths hit hard living in isolation, uncertainty, fear & dealing with loss. 70% of our population is young – scheduling exams at such uncertain time further adds stress and toll on mental health
— Momina Mustehsan (@MominaMustehsan) April 23, 2021
Moreover, four different high courts in Pakistan turned down the students’ petitions to cancel physical examinations or switch to predicted grades. The hashtag #ImranKhanCancelExams started trending on Twitter as the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) and the Government of Pakistan refused to change its mind and decided upon sticking to a decision which could cause serious danger to the lives of many during the pandemic. “I want to thank #Cambridge students who participated, rallied and supported a common cause in whichever way. Despite not winning the court case I congratulate them for holding the government accountable and asserting themselves as political stakeholders,” tweeted Jibran Nasir. Defending the students, Waqar Zaka posted on the micro-blogging site, “Peshawar to ISB and now Sindh high court ordered that exams will not be cancelled, my apology, we tried. But now it’s the Prime minister who can cancel exams so Khan sahab sari fame apko hi miley gi don’t worry. But relief de dou students ko #ImrankhancancleEXAMS.”
Momina Mustehsan wrote, “Would it not be better to consider cancelling exams, or to wait for the wave to subside? The curve needs to be flattened. In person examinations will put the entire nation at risk of transmission, especially at this crucial time.” Feroze Khan added, “Cancel exams, save lives.” Musician Asim Azhar was the first among the celebrities to take a stand for the students. However, the efforts of the students and celebrities were to no avail.
Permission to hold exam was conditional on strict SOP observance. As more reports have come in, It is obvious that outside the exam centres the compliance is poor. This and the latest corona spread reports will be discussed in a special NCOC meeting today afternoon.
— Shafqat Mahmood (@Shafqat_Mahmood) April 27, 2021
— Ali Zafar (@AliZafarsays) April 27, 2021
— FAJAR JAMAL (@FAJARJAMAL13) April 27, 2021
What followed were a string of images showing mobs of people outside the centre for the first Cambridge exam, which went viral on the internet. There was absolutely no social distancing in sight and in most cases, no face masks either. As the pictures made the rounds on the internet on Monday, April 26, students then started the hashtag #NCOCSaveStudents, demanding for all exams across the country to be cancelled. Appalled at the videos and images, Mahmood has now shared a tweet that reads, “Permission to hold exams was conditional on strict SOP observance. As more reports have come in, it is obvious that outside the exam centres the compliance is poor. This and the latest corona spread reports will be discussed in a special NCOC meeting today afternoon.” Now, a revised decision will be announced today. Responding to Mahmood, singer Ali Zafar wrote, “Sir, it may be best to cancel. It was and will always be impossible to observe required compliance. Jaan hai to jahaan hai.” As students appeal to the NCOC to save their lives, here are some pleas, cries, bouts of anger and humour-filled tweets by students that are breaking the internet:
Even #MuradRasshas agreed but the other mister doesn't even understand what is the situation. Plzzzz help the students #ShafqatMehmood u are the ultimate authority plzzz help us sir plzz we beg u🙏🙏
— Rafay (@Rafay68661255) April 27, 2021
Shafqat uncle soo gye ? Abhi tk nai a ay 😥 #NCOCsavestudents
— Tayyab Tahir (@MTofficial1) April 27, 2021
For gods sake have some mercy on us #NCOCsavestudents
— Ashar Naumaan (@AsharNaumaan) April 27, 2021
Please cancel boards as well because you’ll expose more than 500kStudents with no SOPs and we know that Board Students don’t have big Marquees and Banquet Halls but they only have small class rooms in which atleast they make 50 students to sit #NCOCsavestudents
— Rehman SHAH (@rehman_41) April 27, 2021
Me waiting ncoc decision be like 🙈 😂😂#CancelExamsSaveStudents #ImrankhancancleEXAMS #ImranKhanCancelEXAMS #ImranKhanCancelExam #imrankhanjawabdou #ExamsCancelKaro #cancelboardexam2021 #cancelassamboardexam2021 #NCOCsavestudents pic.twitter.com/pL28W2vweD
— Asfah ❤️ (@_Asfah_) April 27, 2021
— Raza Haider (@RazaHaiderZ) April 27, 2021
— M.Touseef Randhawa (@touseef_writes) April 27, 2021
— Asad Khalil (@AsadKha55637245) April 27, 2021
Please cancel the exam if your answer is no then go and see the situation of india #NCOCsavestudents
— Mehboob khokhar (@Mehboobkhokha20) April 27, 2021
— Abdulwasay (@Abdulwa97637411) April 27, 2021
Nonetheless, we hope whatever decision is taken is for the best!