Schoolgirls walk past as a policeman stands at the gate of a government building in Abbottabad- File / AFP
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
In view of a worsening third coronavirus wave all exams have been put off till June 15, Pakistan’s Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood announced on Tuesday.
“We had decided during the last National Command and Operation Centre's (NCOC) meeting on April 18 that exams will proceed as scheduled. However, after that, to date, the infection rate increased by a lot. Hence, one of the decisions we took today through consensus, was that all exams from today till June 15 will be cancelled," Mehmood said.
"So if exams take place after June 15, they may continue in July and even August," the minister added. The decision means that the exams of grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 that were due to start at the end of May stand postponed further, Mahmood said.
He said Cambridge exams had been postponed till Oct-Nov for all grades, while the only exception was for those A2 students "who have a compulsion to take [the] exam now.”
According to the minister, university admissions in Pakistan will be aligned for grade 12 and A2 students who will be taking exams in Oct-Nov. "This is to ensure no one loses a year," he said.
The decision comes after widespread calls from students, activists and politicians for the government to cancel the Cambridge exams in view of the third coronavirus wave.
The government has also imposed a complete ban on tourism from May 8-16, including during Eid Al Fitr holidays, in view of the increasing number of coronavirus cases.
According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Interior on Tuesday, travelling will be banned during the Eid holidays while all tourist resorts, hotels, restaurants, parks, other recreational places and shopping malls will remain closed.
According to the notification, inter-city and inter-provincial transport will be banned during the Eid holidays; however, locals especially of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) will be allowed to travel. The ministry further directed that routes leading to tourist spots will be closed with special focus on Murree, Galliyat, Swat-Kalam, Sea View/beaches and Northern Areas.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday has expressed concern over increasing cases of coronavirus across the country.
While presiding over the meeting of the federal cabinet, the premier has urged the masses to take precautionary measures to avoid contracting coronavirus. He has also directed the concerned authorities to ensure implementation of SOPs.
Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood announced that exams scheduled for March are being delayed till May and June. The minister held a meeting with private school association representatives on reopening schools.
The NCOC late last month announced a new set of restrictions including a blanket ban on tourism and inter-provincial transport in an attempt to contain a further rise in already mounting coronavirus cases under the "Stay Home, Stay Safe” strategy.
Pakistani students will quarantine at their hostels. Pakistanis having valid residence, work visas also exempted from hotel quarantine. The rule is effective from Froday till Sept.1.
"There is a rapid surge in the cases in some districts of Punjab, particularly Lahore, while the situation is the same in some area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu & Kashmir," Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said.
Since the beginning of 2021, the campaign in Pakistan has succeeded in providing 75,148,404 doses of vaccination against polio, bringing the total number, provided by the campaign since 2014 and until 2021, to 583, 240,876 vaccination doses.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) announced 84 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the UAE to 739,190.
The incident happened after thousands of Islamists launched their "long march" from the city toward the capital, Islamabad, demanding that the government release the leader of their outlawed party.