KARACHI: Students who will be appearing for the O and A level exams this year have approached the Sindh High Court (SHC) against the federal government’s decision to hold the assessments amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Sindh High Court, while accepting the plea, issued notices to the federal education ministry, the Cambridge Assessment International Education and the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).
The petition has been filed by Sehar Fatima and others. The students have informed the court that the federal government had decided that A and AS level exams will begin on April 26 and the O level exams will be conducted from May 10 as per schedule.
The students said that the government’s decision to go with the exams had shocked the students across the country.
The petition said that it was beyond their comprehension that, on the one hand, the government deemed it risky and dangerous for students from 1 to 12 grades across the country to take physical classes or exams in the ongoing third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, but on the other, they did not choose it for thousands of Cambridge students.
The petition stated that the government is asking students to risk their safety and give the exams despite knowing the imminent danger it poses. They added that the move was contradictory as the government had at the same time suspended all other academic activities.
They said the federal government failed to furnish reasons why, unlike the UK, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries, it opted to hold physical exams as opposed to evaluating students through school-assessed grades.
The plea urged the court to declare the government decision to conduct physical exams of O-A level students during the pandemic as unlawful and to restrain the respondents from conducting these exams.
The plea appealed to the court to direct the respondents to furnish reasons why classes from grades 1 to 12 were suspended. It also asked the court to seek an explanation from the authorities on why all local board examinations were postponed till the third week of May and why the O and A level students were being asked to give physical exams from the last week of April.
A division bench, headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, after the preliminary hearing of the petition, issued notices to the ministry of education, the NCOC and others, and called their comments on April 15.