The past year has been challenging for almost all of us in different ways due to the pandemic. Adjusting to this reality was somewhat difficult in the beginning, but the world is trying to keep up with the pace of these changing scenarios. COVID-19 has not only revealed the crumbling state of our healthcare system but has put other sectors in the focus too. The education system has been hard hit by the pandemic. The fluctuation of opening and closing of schools in the past year with the rise in the cases has somewhat created chaos in students’ life. Moreover, the newfangled idea of online learning took teachers, along with students, off-guard. The cancellation of exams further worsens the situation. In the academic year 2020, the Federal Education Minister, Shafqat Mehmood, canceled the board exams in order to minimize the spread of the virus. That seemed like the right move for many reasons; the new idea of adjusting to virus, complete lockdown, and rising number of cases made every move on the part of the government justified. However, the situation is quite different now.
The ongoing exam cancellation issue has created a stir amongst the students and the authorities. Students, who are already struggling with their online classes, are somewhat not ready to appear in exams. They owe it to the irregular school session. The protests around the country are directed at the rejection of students’ requests by the government. Which, again, is the right move. The cancellation of exams is not the solution, rather it contributes to the already fragmented situation of the education sector.
The vaccination process has started around the world and Pakistan is also providing vaccines to its senior citizens. The virus is not ready to leave the doors of the world anytime soon, but it’s upon the citizens to fine-tune their lives according to it. The reports published in Bloomberg revealed that at the current pace, Pakistan needs a decade to vaccinate 75% of its population. This tells us that we have to adapt to this situation we have got caught in unexpectedly.
Moreover, the schools and universities are already grappling with online lectures. The students’ limited attendance, non-serious frame of mind, and ignorance towards homework have already slacked off the learning process. With these problems at hand, the education sector doesn’t have a well-founded replacement of face-to-face exams. Online exams do not promise transparent and fair assessment with limited resources as a large number of population doesn’t have access to quality internet. The cancellation of exams would further elevate this distressing state of affairs, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Additionally, with nearly 23 million children out of school, Pakistan needs to accommodate the ongoing pandemic and continue its regular sessions with strict SOPs. Conducting regular exams would allow the students to attend the online classes regularly, keep up with their home tasks, and be more responsible toward their studies. Knowing that their online learning is going to be assessed, the attendance in those online classes can improve. The future of our students is already at stake due to the irregularity of school sessions, exams are the only way to determine the progress they are making. Similarly, with the spike in competition in various professional fields, cancelling the exams doesn’t seem like a viable option.
Pakistan is a country with already limited resources, which are also brought into question in the past year. Its high time that students around the country realize that the adjustment according to a pandemic is inescapable. We all need to accept that it’s the new normal and it’s going to be here for a while. Better not to understate the virus but learn to live with it.