To whomever it may concern, I write this to you in hopes of finding answers to my queries. We have been informed that there was a breach in security of the Islamiat and Pakistan Studies exams, outside Pakistan. Due to this, all students who had earlier written these exams have to write them again in less than 10 days!
Such a practice has never taken place in the history of the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE). I would like to ask you what have students done to deserve this fate? Why should they have to suffer if the British Council was incompetent?
Also, why has it taken so long for the students to be informed? If the Council was already aware of the breach, why did we have to appear for the remaining examinations in the first place?
The news of re-examinations has just caused stress and hardships for the students. If a small minority was aware of the content beforehand, why does the majority have to suffer for their actions?
I urge you to reconsider this decision, as it is simply not practical and is grossly unfair to all the students who wrote their exams with honesty.
Also, what about those students who have left for their summer vacations? Are they now to spend thousands of rupees to fly back to take these exams and, once they do so, do you really think they will be able to fly back and resume their vacation where they left off? Not everybody has the kind of money to afford such luxuries.
If this decision was announced sooner, it might have given students enough time to study, but it’s not practical to expect them to take their exams with a prior notice of just 10 days. Students spend years preparing for this exam — arguably, the most important exam of their life, since college acceptances are based on the results students acquire in their O’ Levels. Do you think 10 days is enough to prepare for this life-altering examination?
Albeit, the British Council has been generous enough to allow students to write the examination in November, this is still unfair. How are students meant to study for three additional examinations in the second year of their O’ Levels? They already have at least eight more subjects to prepare for. How are they supposed to concentrate in class knowing that they haven’t even passed their earlier examinations? How are they meant to learn from their earlier mistakes and improve in the second session of their O’ Levels?
The British Council may find consolation in providing us with this option but it is hardly an option. If students do opt to write the examinations in November, it will be purely out of necessity and not choice.
Another practical approach to ensure the integrity of these exams would be to retest those areas where the leak has occurred and not the rest. For the remaining, a mere comparison of expected grades and achieved grades would surely determine whether the information reached these areas. Areas with a vast difference in both should then be asked to give their examinations again.
I sincerely hope you consider my suggestions and act accordingly. Consider those who worked day and night to achieve good results and are now being forced to retake the exams just because someone, somewhere, not even remotely related to them has been grossly dishonest and incompetent.
Please think about the remaining majority.
Maha Raheel Ahmad
Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2013.
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