Following backlash from the students, Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) on Friday offered A-level students opportunity to retake examinations that had been cancelled due to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) protests in May, a statement said.
The move came after Cambridge students took to the streets to protest against the unexpected reduction of marks in the AS and A levels results earlier this week.
The students expressed concerns about their academic future as they gathered outside the Karachi Press Club to voice their dissatisfaction with their results. They expressed worries about the grading process, citing the cancellation of A-level papers in Pakistan on May 9 and 12 due to the unrest in the city on political grounds.
“Instead of rescheduling the exams, average marking was employed, leading to unfavourable outcomes for the students,” they said.
Read more: Cambridge students protest against results
Only a handful of students received A and B grades, while a majority, including us, were left with C, and D grades, they maintained.
“Cambridge International’s June 2023 exams series in Pakistan was marked with uncertainty when papers were cancelled on 10, 11 and 12 May 2023 due to political unrest in the country. Due to this, students whose exams were cancelled were assessed based on the components they sat in exam during the series,” a statement issued by the CAIE read.
It clarified that Cambridge had also shared in advance that grading standards for 2023 would be returning gradually to pre-Covid standards of 2019 in phases in 2022 and 2023, therefore, a shift in grading thresholds should be expected.
However, it said that following the results students showed concerns about their grades and called for remedial action by Cambridge.
“To address such concerns, Mr Waseem Ajmal, Secretary, Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, presided over a meeting to discuss the concerns of students who received their Cambridge International AS & A Level grades on 10 August. Present in the meeting were Uzma Yousuf, Country Director, Cambridge International, Pakistan Maarya Rehman, Acting Country Director, British Council and leaders from various private schools.”
The meeting discussed the concerns of the schools and students and asked for suggestions from Cambridge to support these students.
The statement said that Cambridge International explained to the ministry its process for calculating assessed marks as well as why returning to the standards of our qualifications to pre-pandemic standard was required.
After the briefing, it added, the ministry recognised that June 2023 exam results are “fair, valid and reliable even where students missed some components due to the disruption to exams on 10, 11 and 12 May.”
Both Cambridge International and the government recognise that many students were disappointed not to be able to sit every component and may want another chance to show what they can do, it added.
To provide such students the opportunity to show their academic attainment to the fullest, the government in agreement with Cambridge International announced the following decision:
“Any student who missed a component for Cambridge International AS & A Level on 10, 11 and 12 May because exams were cancelled, can re-sit exams for that subject without paying the Cambridge part of the exam fee in the November 2023 exam series. Students who ask to re-sit a qualification take all relevant components in November – those they missed and those they took in June. Students who want to re-sit A Level take all components, both AS and ‘A2’.”
The ministry also decided to hold meetings with vice chancellors of renowned universities in Pakistan to request them to provide flexibility in their admission processes for students while Cambridge also agreed to make similar request to the universities in Pakistan.
It said that the ministry will also coordinate with the provincial government to initiate similar measures by them.
Appreciating the government and federal ministry of education for its continued trust in Cambridge, Uzma Yousuf, Country Director, Cambridge International, Pakistan, said: “Cambridge International takes pride in the high quality and standards of our education and assessment and reiterate our confidence in all our June 2023 results. We have always prioritised the wellbeing of our learners and the decisions taken today are a reaffirmation of our commitment to providing quality education and assessments. I would also like to reiterate to our schools and students that we are here to support you with the best of our capabilities in providing a successful academic experience.”
Yousuf also advised students who still have concerns to get in touch with their schools in the first instance while private candidates can contact the British Council.
The ministry of education lauded Cambridge International’s efforts in providing high-quality education for the students of Pakistan and being an important stakeholder for the government for the betterment of education in the country, the statement further said.