The students sitting in the Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) Board have been treated highly unfairly. Amidst a global pandemic, which subjected them to unprecedented circumstances with regards to their studies, they were not given refunds on their exams but were promised to be marked fairly on the basis of predicted grades. Yet when grades came out last week, there was huge outcry over discrepancies over the results, as it was estimated that CAIE had majorly downgraded the predicted grades that schools had sent.

The outrage thankfully has led to some accountability happening—after many politicians including Murad Raas and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari expressed concern over the discrepancies in the grades, and hundreds of students and their families protested outside the National Press Club against the examination results, Cambridge International has agreed to review its grading procedures, and will announce its final verdict on Tuesday.

It is clear from the bizarre results, whereby students predicted to receive high grades were failed instead, that the methods used by the CAIE to evaluate the students are unfair and discriminatory. In the time of a pandemic, when facilitation is important, CAIE just seems to have made matters tougher and worse. Yet this is not just a pandemic issue—the examination board has in the past also made some arbitrary decisions, without any transparency, with no proper channels for accountability.

Discrepancies in results are not small issues—this impacts the future and livelihood of these students, and it is unfortunate that the examination board provides so few mechanisms of clarification and rechecking. Yet perhaps this is to be expected from an education board which is far removed from the Pakistani students it is catering to, and to whom it does not owe much responsibility. While the education ministry must ensure that the students suffering from this crisis receive justice, it also needs to rethink the problems of importing an education board.