Cambridge to retake A-Level cancelled papers after students’ protests

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By Webdesk

Cambridge exams underway across Pakistan.— Deputy Commissioner South Karachi/Twitter
Cambridge exams underway across Pakistan.— Deputy Commissioner South Karachi/Twitter

Following protests by Pakistani students against “unfair” grades in AS and A-Levels exams, Cambridge International has decided to retake papers that were cancelled in May this year due to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) protests, the CIE announced in a statement on Friday.

The decision was taken in a meeting presided over by Federal Secretary for Education Waseem Ajmal in Islamabad to address the concerns of students who received their A-Level results on August 10.

Uzma Yousuf, Country Director, Cambridge International, Pakistan Maarya Rehman, Acting Country Director, British Council and leaders from various private schools attended the meeting.

The meeting discussed the concerns of the schools and students and asked for suggestions from Cambridge to support these students.

Cambridge International explained to the ministry its process for calculating assessed marks as well as why returning to the standards of our qualifications to pre-pandemic standards was required.

After the briefing, the education ministry “recognised that June 2023 exam results are fair, valid and reliable even where students missed some components due to the disruption to exams on 10, 11 and 12 May,” the Cambridge statement said.

Cambridge said any student who missed a component for Cambridge International AS and A-Level on May 10, 11 and 12 May because exams were cancelled, “can resit exams for that subject without paying the Cambridge exam fee in the November 2023 exam series”.

Students who ask to resit a qualification take all relevant components in November – those they missed and those they took in June. “Students who want to resit A Level take all components, both AS and ‘A2’,” the statement added.

The ministry also decided to hold meetings with vice-chancellors of renowned universities in Pakistan to request them to provide flexibility in their admission processes for students while Cambridge also agreed to make a similar request to the universities in Pakistan.

The official statement said the ministry will also coordinate with the provincial government to initiate similar measures by them.

The development came after thousands of A-Level students expressed dismay over the results with many held demonstrations in Karachi and Lahore to protest against the average points system.

Students say they received Cs, Ds, Es and Us grades in their cancelled papers due to the average grading system.

Reacting to widespread criticism and demand for reviewing its grading system involving this year’s ‘disappointing results’, Cambridge International had said, “This year’s standard has returned to the standard of [pre-pandemic standard of] 2019.”

In a statement, a spokesperson of Cambridge International said: “Like other exam boards, we have been moving the standard of Cambridge qualifications back to the pre-pandemic standard of 2019 in gradual steps.”

It further said that this year’s standard has returned to the standard of 2019, which means that a student who would have achieved a grade A in 2019 will be just as likely to get an A in 2023.

“Students all around the world have seen this return to the 2019 standard,” read the statement.

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