A revolutionary decision has been taken by the Inter Board Committee of Chairmen (IBCC), a forum of heads of education boards in Pakistan, as private students across the country will now be allowed to matriculate in science subjects just like in the Cambridge system. This means that students will no longer need to be affiliated with schools in order to take their exams. They can now enroll from any educational board in Pakistan. Officials have further said they will extend this decision for intermediate students as well in the near future.
The decision comes with its positives and negatives. Allowing private students will help facilitate those that are not able to study in school for one reason or another but are willing to continue their education. It will also provide an opportunity for those children who are forced into work to student in their free time and take exams. Apart from that, students who are considered “weak” by their teachers and those who do not fit well within the school system can also take advantage of this decision and study themselves or through private tutors. There can however be a very serious drawback to this. Students from lower-income households may opt to leave school to pursue part-time work in order to earn money while also continuing with their studies as private students. The decision might also enable the toxic culture of tuitions as parents might prefer spending money on tuitions centres instead of schools, considering the deplorable condition of schools.
One hopes the government has kept all these situations in mind and will act accordingly. The percentage of out-of-school students must be monitored after the decision is imposed and a counter strategy should be developed in order to encourage students to stay in school and to persuade parents to prioritise sending their children to school over all else. The IBCC must also be aware that their decision will affect rural and urban students differently.