Students in a quandary over exams schedule in Punjab

PBCC issues 5th exam schedule for matric, intermediate amid protests


ADNAN LODHI June 18, 2021
An inmate writes answers on his sheets while giving his secondary education exams at the Central Jail, Karachi, on Saturday. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

LAHORE:

Over four million matriculation and intermediate students in the province are still facing uncertainty regarding their annual exams because of confusion created by decisions of the Punjab Boards Committee of Chairmen (PBCC) and the education ministry.

The PBCC issued the date sheet for the fifth time on Thursday to conduct physical exams, while a section of the students is demanding online examinations. Private schools associations also criticised the ministry and the committee, expressing dissatisfaction over the marks formula for the exams. However, the PBCC is committed to holding exams at the examination centres for the elective subjects only.

The millions of students enrolled with the nine boards of intermediate and secondary education (BISE) have spent the past several months amid confusion about their exams.

Read more: Protest against in-person exams turns violent

About 2.6 million students are studying in grades nine and 10, while 2.4 million are registered in grades 11 and 12 in the province.

The PBCC contributed to the confusion by revising the exam schedule four times. The fourth date sheet was issued four days ago but another has been announced now. According to the new schedule, the annual exams of intermediate part two will begin on July 10. The decision was taken in a PBCC meeting held in Sargodha.

Matriculation and intermediate students were already protesting in several cities against on-campus exams.

Recently, a demonstration was held in front of Lahore Press Club, where protesting students said they had studied online and now wanted the examinations through the same system but the government was not willing to consider their demand.

The PBCC has decided that exams of only elective subjects will be held this year and the marks for compulsory subjects will also be given on their basis. Most of the protesters were students of government schools who had multiple objections over the decision to hold the exams manually.

"A large number of students in remote districts could not complete the courses due to the non-availability of internet and online education facilities. They want the exams delayed for three months so that they can complete their preparation," said Wasif Ali, a student of intermediate, during the protest.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, he said some elite private school groups were willing to have online exams to get top positions. He alleged such schools had developed strong connections in the examination boards committee. The protesting student said a major issue faced by all candidates the lack of clarity regarding the marking distribution.

"Another big issue in elective subjects' exams is that if a student wants to study English literature in BS then it would not be fair that his marks in English in intermediate will be awarded on the basis of his performance in science subjects. We want the PBCC to listen to us but they are not willing to consider our demands," he said.

He said thousands of students and their parents were worried about their future and the chief minister should intervene in the matter.

Private Schools Management Associations' president Kashif Adeeb Jawdani supported the demands of the students.

"We think that the students' demands are justified and besides this we are also concerned because the PBCC earlier issued the exam schedule four times. We don't want the future of even a single student jeopardised, so the education ministry should consult all stakeholders."

The school owner pointed out that classes were not held for a long period in several districts due to the lockdown imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus. He expressed fear that a large number of students from such areas might fail in the exams if their problems were not taken into consideration.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 18h, 2021.

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