By Ushna Saeed
Life is unpredictable and as human we try our best to control the uncertainties of future. There are certain things that we go through life knowing completely how they will proceed and then something comes up and changes life as you know it.
And that exactly what the global pandemic of 2020 did. It provided the modern world with unique circumstances, allowing little time to adapt to it.
These circumstances largely affect the student body all over the world. While some tried to regularly attend online classes from their homes, others had to blindly trust education systems to find a way to promote students without any exams. I fall into the latter category.
Suddenly, after tirelessly preparing for school mock exams, university entry test and CAIE A levels exams, I found that all my efforts have been meaningless as all the exams were cancelled. I, now, faced two option: opt for predicted grades based on my previous performance in school and O levels or withdraw from May/June exam series and transfer to Oct/Nov series. The former option meant that I have blindly trusted my teacher, school, my academic performance and Cambridge system and the later meant that I might have to waste a whole year and take a gap year.
I sat with my father with all my previous results in front of me, my O levels result, A levels school transcripts and my assignments. Looking that those pieces of papers, I knew I trusted my performance and the teachers who spent 2 years with us.
I trusted the school because the school was in same boat as I. School’s performance and results also depended on our results. I trusted Cambridge examination system because that is what the than sounds of students worldwide pay them for: fair marking. Keeping in mind, all the above and the conditional admission of LUMS that required me to obtain 2B and 1C in A levels, I decided to go for predicted grades. However, on 11th August, when I went to school to receive my result, I knew I have put my trust in a wrong place.
But who and what was the wrong place. I didn’t take every long for all the students to speak up about the unfair marking of their results on different platforms.
The culprit was obvious: the Cambridge International Examination System. We were all aware of the risk of downgrading by 40 per cent with Cambridge has had made clear. However, the fall of grades that the students saw on their statement of result much more drastic. In matter of minutes, mine and many other futures became uncertain, thousands of dreams started to break and efforts of last five years started to look meaningless. Upon visits after visits to the school, they decided to announce the predicted grades sent by teachers to Cambridge.
To quote on example I received a D in subject where teacher sent an A. It was also later discovered that the Cambridge system did not ask for any evidence, including internal exams, assignments, class test etc, from majority of schools and decided to trust our teachers and their algorithm, clearly showing that had no other basis to mark us a much lower grade than sent by our teacher other than their algorithm which must have gone awry.
Many school in Pakistan have decided to appeal to the Cambridge system and are bound from taking any further action until they receive a reply from Cambridge. While the government of Pakistan stands with the youth and schools try their best to rectify the grades of students, there is one other institution that the students need the most from is Universities.
Universities such as LUMS did not take longer than three days to revoke the admissions of students who failed to meet conditions due to unfair grading while being aware of the situation.
Some universities such as IBA Karachi has decided to provide leniency to the students while other universities have decided to extent their deadlines. Students should be at least given the time until a official reply from Cambridge is received. Schools are also willing to back the capable, deserving students who are unfairly graded on every platform.
These are dire circumstances for the whole of the world. The air of uncertainty and hopelessness surrounds the students. The youth of Pakistan need justice, support and the fruit of their hard work of last thirteen years.
— The writer is a student