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Coronavirus in Pakistan: Shafqat Mehmood assured of SOPs compliance during Cambridge exams

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Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood meeting with chiefs of British Council and Cambridge in Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD: Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood was assured by the British Council Pakistan on Thursday that the body will ensure that all coronavirus standard operating procedures are followed during the upcoming O and A level examinations.

"The head of British Council and Cambridge in Pakistan came to see me today. They [British Council] assured me that all SOPs for conducting the exam would be strictly followed," tweeted the minister with a picture of the representatives in a meeting with him.

Earlier this week, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood announced that O and AS/A level examinations in Pakistan will proceed as per schedule and that there will be "absolutely no change" in the government's decision on the matter.

Exams for AS and A levels will commence from April 26 (in 20 days), while O level exams will commence from May 10 according to a revised schedule announced by Cambridge.

He described the decision to proceed with exams as a unanimous and final one and repeatedly underlined that it was not going to change.

Mehmood was addressing parents and students scheduled to sit for the Cambridge International Examinations during a news conference on Tuesday.

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"There are only around 85,000 students from all over Pakistan who are sitting for the A, AS and O Level examinations, compared to 4 million students sitting for local board exams," the minister had said.

The minister had said that — given the comparatively lower number of students impacted, and the fact that the government has no authority over the Cambridge examinations board — health and education officials from all four provinces and the federation had unanimously decided that there would be no change in the O and AS/A Level exams schedule this year, nor would the exams be cancelled in favour of predicted grades.

"Cambridge has assured that they will ensure full compliance with [coronavirus prevention] SOPs — desks will be placed at a six-metre distance, no crowds will be allowed outside [exam centres]," he said.

The minister argued that the Cambridge exams were more manageable because of the comparatively lower number of students sitting for them: "On most days it is 2,000 children, 5,000 children [sitting for the exams] — barring a few days where there are 10-15,000 children," he explained.


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