LAHORE - We will never make public the findings (ongoing investigation) because of security and legal reasons. Cambridge International, however, takes full responsibility of the security breach, which did not happen in Pakistan but had an impact here. The information about the papers content came in through social media and electronic transformation. It is all very technical. We can take steps to reduce the risks in future. It was not a good start for those who were taking their exams for the first time. It was not a good start. We say sorry to all the families and schools who have been destructed by these events and I hope we will put it together.

This was stated by Chief Executive of Cambridge International Examinations, Michael O’Sullivan while talking to The Nation on Saturday. Cambridge O level and IGCSE papers for Islamiat and Pakistan Studies were leaked outside Pakistan due to breach of security and many candidates in the country had seen the content of papers before examination. Therefore CIE decided to retake the examination on June 13 and June 14. Sullivan rushed to Pakistan in the serious situation to explain to people and parents about the steps being taken to protect the interests of all candidates in Pakistan. Sullivan became chief executive of CIE in April after serving as Director of the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust and Cambridge Overseas Trust.

“I was prepared from the day first to deal with all kinds of issues. I had four months of briefing before taking up the job. I agree that it is not the first time that there has been breach of security but those were on much smaller scale. This kind of security breach is very unusual and it never happened in the past. Now we will improve our security and that is our responsibility,” the chief exective maintained. 

Describing the seriousness of the incident and speed of circulating information he said that it was because of social media and emails. “The information moved quickly because of email and social network websites. That is why the issue became more serious and the information moved faster than in the past and we needed to take action,” he said.

Talking about the immediate steps he took to control the situation, he said that once they were assured that significance part of paper was known to students before the examination then we could not give grades based on that examination. “Had we given grades it would have benefitted those who had cheated. It distorts the whole pattern of grading examination. Then we decided to have fresh examination. We always have papers ready for such situations. We made sure the examination will be on time and also result should be in August. Its big impact is on family life which we are trying to least disrupt because some have travel plans or other engagements.

When asked about details of the investigation he excused and said, “I am sorry I cannot give details because one problem is I cannot compromise security secondly I do not want to put any allegation against any party elsewhere; doing so will also be unfair. But I say it on the record that the information did not leak out in Pakistan,” Sullivan said.

When asked about the steps taken to avoid such situation in future, he said that they had tightened the security and taken into account the impact of electronic and social media.

“We talked to all the schools and British Council in Pakistan is helping us in communicating with schools and the candidates. While I am here I am also talking to many school principals in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi and also elsewhere,” he said. 

When asked about how many students are taking the replacement exams next week, he said they were not putting pressure on the students. “We know it is always difficult to take a borderline decision. So we are not giving them any deadline. They can take it next week or in November. We are trying to be flexible as much as we can. We have also been contacted by number of students who are outside the country and want to take exams at different locations. We are trying to accommodate them as much as we can. They can contact us on Cambridge email address directly,” Sullivan explained.