ISLAMABAD: In response to the recent wave of protests by Pakistani students regarding what they deem as “unfair” grading in their AS and A-Level exams, Cambridge International has made a decision to facilitate the retaking of papers that were initially cancelled in May of this year due to protests led by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party. The announcement was issued in a statement by the CIE on Friday.
Government-led Meeting Spurs Action
The choice to proceed with this action was the result of a meeting chaired by Waseem Ajmal, the Federal Secretary for Education, held in Islamabad. The primary objective of the meeting was to address the concerns raised by students who had received their A-Level results on August 10. Among those in attendance were Uzma Yousuf, the Country Director of Cambridge International Pakistan, Maarya Rehman, the Acting Country Director of the British Council, and representatives from various private schools.
Cambridge International’s Clarifications and Ministry’s Conclusion
Cambridge International took the opportunity to elucidate its process of evaluating assessed marks to the ministry. Additionally, the organization clarified the necessity of reverting to the standards of qualifications that were in place before the pandemic. Following the comprehensive briefing, the education ministry reached the conclusion that the exam results from June 2023 were equitable, valid, and dependable, even considering the challenges posed by the disruption to exams on May 10, 11, and 12. This affirmation was articulated in a statement by Cambridge International.
Retake Opportunities and Details
According to the resolution, students who were unable to complete a component of their Cambridge International AS and A-Level exams on May 10, 11, and 12 due to the exam cancellations will be given the opportunity to resit the exams for that specific subject without being subjected to the usual Cambridge exam fee. These resits are scheduled to take place during the November 2023 exam series. Students who opt to retake a qualification will undertake all relevant components in the November exams, encompassing both the components they missed in June and those they previously took.
Advocacy for Students
Simultaneously, the education ministry has proposed discussions with vice-chancellors of esteemed universities within Pakistan. The aim is to solicit flexibility in the admission processes on behalf of the affected students. On a similar note, Cambridge International has committed to advocating for analogous accommodations from Pakistani universities. Notably, the ministry has also expressed intent to collaborate with provincial governments in order to introduce comparable measures. This coordinated effort seeks to mitigate the impact of the disruptions faced by students during the exams.
Grading System Controversy and Cambridge’s Response
This development transpired subsequent to numerous demonstrations by A-Level students who conveyed their dissatisfaction with the results. The crux of the issue stemmed from the employment of an average points system, which resulted in students receiving grades of Cs, Ds, Es, and Us in their cancelled papers. In response to the substantial criticism and the demand for a reevaluation of the grading system implicated in this year’s “disappointing results,” Cambridge International clarified its position.
Return to Pre-Pandemic Grading Standards
The spokesperson for Cambridge International elaborated, “Like other examination boards, we have been gradually reinstating the standards of Cambridge qualifications to those observed before the pandemic, specifically the standards of 2019.” Furthermore, the spokesperson emphasized that the grading for the current year has effectively returned to the level of 2019. Consequently, students who would have achieved a grade A in 2019 should have an equivalent likelihood of attaining an A in 2023. The statement from Cambridge International concluded by noting that this return to the 2019 standard has been implemented worldwide, ensuring uniformity across different regions.