PML-N accused of doing politics on exams issue

By Uzma Zafar

ISLAMABAD: Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood on Friday accused PML-N lawmakers of doing politics on the issue of examinations for matric and intermediate students “to gain cheap popularity”. In a series of tweets, the minister lashed out at senior PML-N leaders Khawaja Saad Rafique and Ahsan Iqbal, who have been calling on the government to delay the exams in order to give students more time to prepare.
“No surprise that N league, which is breaking apart, is playing politics with students to gain cheap popularity. People like Ahsan Iqbal and Saad Rafique know that exams have already happened in Balochistan and Sindh, therefore other students cannot be treated differently,” he wrote.
He said the two PML-N MNAs were also aware that the decision to conduct exams was “taken unanimously by all federating units including PML-N government in AJK, and PPP in Sindh”. The minister reiterated that students could not be promoted on the basis of previous exams as there were no exams last year, when the coronavirus pandemic made its way to Pakistan.
“Saad Rafiq/Ahsan Iqbal should know if they claim to be educated that exams are the best measure of students’ ability and class 12 is important as they have to go to universities and professional colleges,” he said, asking: “Why should hardworking students be discriminated against?”
Asking the PML-N lawmakers to “stop cheap politics”, he reminded them that after the 18th Amendment, only one educational board out of the total 30 i.e. the federal board, was under the federal government.
“Yet they were pretending that one order from [the] federal minister can stop exams across the country. Again just a failed attempt at cheap politics,” he said. Students in various parts of the country have been protesting against the government’s decision to take their examinations on a short notice and hashtags such as #Noexamswithoutstudy attracted tens of thousands of tweets in recent days.
Apparently unmoved by the demands, Mahmood said: “Exams are starting tomorrow (Saturday) in the remaining provinces and federating units. Wish all students taking exams from tomorrow (Saturday) the very best. Inshallah all will do well.” He said the students who were asking for more time “can always appear in supplementary exams taken 2/3 months [later] by all boards. Why should these exams be postponed and students who have been studying be penalised?”
Responding to this statement, PML-N’s Rafique told the minister that only those students could appear in the supplementary exams who had failed the annual exams or wanted to improve their marks. “Fresh students cannot sit in these exams. I think the minister is not even aware of this,” he wrote.
Earlier in the day, while speaking to reporters in the parliament, Rafique said the government could not “morally” conduct exams for courses whose syllabus had not been completed. He said the government should delay the exams by six or eight weeks, adding if the exams went ahead, many students would fail and “go into depression”. The PML-N MNA alleged that the government had not consulted faculty or parents before taking the decision to take the exams, and demanded that the students detained during recent protests against exams be released.