Pakistan adamant on conducting in-person exams amid COVID-19 despite public outcry

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Pakistan's Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood (Credit: Shafqat Mehmood/Twitter)
Pakistan's Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood (Credit: Shafqat Mehmood/Twitter)

Islamabad [Pakistan], July 4 (ANI): Despite public outcry over holding in-person examinations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan's Education Minister has said that exams will not be cancelled and told the students to focus on their studies.

"Let me make it clear that this year nobody will be promoted without exams," said Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood, ruling out promotion of students without exams, reported Geo News.

He further said the Punjab government will look into the matter of schools fees, adding that the decision to reopen schools was up to the provinces.

"Already a lot of damage has been done, I will tell the students that the exams will be held according to the date sheet," the minister added.

Last month, Mehmood had said exams of classes ninth, matric, first, and second-year would take place across the country after July 10, "come what may".

The minister, speaking on the floor of the National Assembly during the budget session, had said several problems arose last year when the government had decided not to conduct exams, Geo News reported.

On Friday, Islamabad Police resorted to using force to disperse a protest against holding in-person examinations for classes 9 to 12 scheduled to begin later this month amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A dozen students were temporarily detained.

The students had started gathering outside the Higher Education Commission (HEC) office in the morning. They were protesting in-person exams as well as calling for Shafqat Mahmood's resignation, Dawn reported citing Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Dr Mustafa Tanveer.

A number of such protests have taken place across the country in recent months as the COVID-19 pandemic dragged on, affecting educational activities.

In May, over a dozen protesters were arrested and scores of motorcycles impounded during police action to disperse students staging a protest demanding online examinations at Faizabad.

The protesting students shouted slogans against the government, the federal minister for education and other officers of the education department. Some of the students had even turned violent, according to officials.

Police resorted to baton-charge to disperse the protesters. The protesters retaliated and pelted the police with stones. (ANI)

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