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No summer vacations... just exams for some students

KARACHI, May 21(Daily Times): The recent political unrest in the city has stripped many students of their summer vacations. In particular, Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher School Certificate (HSC) students will be sitting exams during the June-July session, which is normally a time for vacations.

Students who don't have board-level examinations are in the same boat and will have to give up their summer vacations due to the semester examinations in May being postponed. This has put a wrench in schools' time management plans and also caused financial loss.

"My family and I were planning to visit Kashmir to see my grand parents during the summer, but, as an HSC part I candidate, my exams will start in June and could continue till mid-July. It is clear that my desire to go on a vacation has turned to ash," said Saad Kamal, an intermediate class student.

According to the rescheduled board examinations for the secondary and higher secondary level, the intermediate examinations for pre-medical, pre-engineering and home economics have been rescheduled to start from May 29. These exams were originally supposed to start mid-May.

Similarly, the intermediate commerce group examinations for the private and regular candidates have been rescheduled to start from June 2. Both these theoretical examinations will end by mid-July and the practical exams for the science groups are likely to finish by the end of July.

"It's clear that there will be nothing like a summer vacation for HSC level students this year," said Syed Khalid Shah, a school teacher and chairman of the All Private School Management Association Sindh. "The recent political turmoil in the city is one of the main reasons behind this."

Rescheduled board examinations are going to completely ruin the vacations for SSC part-I candidates and partially ruin the SSC part-II candidate vacations.

According to a recent schedule announcement by the Board of Secondary Examination Karachi regarding the SSC part-I exams, the exams have been rescheduled to start from May 22. They were originally supposed to start on May 15 but had to be postponed because of the recent political unrest. According to the announcement, this date may be further extended to avoid any possible political conflicts in the future.

Besides that, the SSC part-II practical examinations have been rescheduled to take place between June 5 and June 7.

Private School Management Association Chairman Sharaf-uz-Zaman blamed this on the behavior of political parties and also on the rescheduled academic session which was introduced this year.

According to him, setting the board examinations to May was a very unwise decision. Previously, he said, the academic session started April 1 and ended March 31. March was the normal time for board examinations and if there were any problems, the authorities would have two months to rescheduled postponed papers to before the vacations, he said.

Students have never missed their summer vacations in the past, and it's happening know partly because of the change in academic timings, he added.

The political turmoil has also disrupted the internal examinations of classes one to eight. According to Syed Ibne Hasan Shah, the owner of a school and also a teacher, since the schedules are in the hands of the schools themselves, they can plan to set more convenient schedules.

"We have arranged two different schedules - A and B. Students who have no plans of moving out of the city for vacations will be given schedule A, the routine schedule. And the students that plan to move out of the city will be give schedule B, which will end their terms earlier so that they can leave," he explained.

The changes in schedule have also disrupted pre-planned activities related to administrative set ups. "Summer vacation is a time for major renovation and development work necessary for the schools. But as there is no (or a shorter) summer vacation session this time it will be difficult to carry out that work," said Khalid Shah.

Also, students are already facing troubles studying because of the humidity, heat, and power outages, said Khalid. The new board examinations are further down the line where there'll be even more of these problems, he added.

Students, parents, and teachers all issued a combined appeal to the political parties to keep the political situation calm. "We believe that politics are for the betterment of common people. Political chaos puts even more pressure on the young candidates," they added.
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