Students in Pakistan rallied on Twitter on Thursday to demand that exams be deferred owing to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country.
The protesting students’ posts led to #ImranKhanCancelEXAMS becoming one of the top 10 trends in Pakistan on Twitter.
An account “CANCELCIES2021”, which appears to be operated by a representative of the students, argued that “no other countries” had to approach the court or protest in such a manner against the holding of exams.
It was a reference to an ongoing case at the Sindh High Court against the decision to go ahead with Cambridge exams. (More on this below.)
“Our COVID-19 death rate is more than 100 on average per day, on average 5,000 cases are reported daily. How can we sit for exams in such a situation? Our physical and mental health should be the first priority,” the account said.
Students ramp up the pressure
Students have constantly kept up the pressure on the government to hold off on exams, initially pleading to the education minister to reconsider the decision to proceed as per schedule.
The focus has now shifted to appealing directly to PM Imran Khan, as the trend has made evident.
Students have cited rising positivity ratios, as well as the fact that exams in several countries have been postponed by Cambridge.
‘Cancel exams or lose vote’
One youngster pleaded with Imran Khan to remember how the youth had rallied on election day to vote for him and help him come into power.
“Now it is your turn to help us,” he said, before proceeding to issue a warning: “Cancel the exams or lose our vote. The choice is yours.”
‘Have mercy on us’
One student, showing a graph of worryingly high coronavirus positivity ratio across the major cities of Pakistan, urged Shafqat Mehmood to take note and “have mercy”.
‘Are exams more important?’
Another, questioned what is more important: students’ lives or exams.
“We are asking for our right to live! We have the right to choose lives over exams,” wrote the student.
‘Deadline forwarded in India’
Exams cancelled in ‘Bangladesh, Kuwait, Thailand, USA’
‘Is COVID a joke?’
When are exams due?
According to Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood, all Cambridge exams will proceed as scheduled, and will not be making use of teacher assessed grades this year, which means that AS and A Level exams will begin on April 26 and O Level and IGCSE exams on May 10.
Matriculation and Intermediate board exams, on the other hand, have been deferred and will take place varyingly across provinces, starting late May.
PM summons NCC session tomorrow
The hue and cry comes as Pakistan consistently registered more than 5,000 cases daily for the past five days. The national positivity ratio was reported by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to have hit 10.16% today (Thursday).
The prime minister has summoned a session of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) on COVID-19 tomorrow, sources have told Geo News. The decision followed a briefing by NCOC chief Asad Umar and the premier’s aide on health Dr Faisal Sultan on the country’s coronavirus situation.
Sindh High Court expected to issue judgment on CIE exams tomorrow
Meanwhile, the Sindh High Court, which is hearing a petition calling for Cambridge exams to be postponed, will resume it’s hearing tomorrow at 10am, in which arguments will be completed and a verdict is likely to be pronounced.
According to Jibran Nasir, which is fighting the case on behalf of the students, Cambridge has refused to extend the exam deadline, citing a window (April 17) to apply for teacher assessment grades as having passed.
He said that in India, however, Cambridge was flexible and moved the deadline to April 19.