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Pakistani University Students Rally To Demand Online Exams

Peshawar University Students March For Online Exams, Cuts In Tuition Fees
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Hundreds of Pakistani university students rallied in the northwestern city of Peshawar on January 22 to demand that they be allowed to write their exams online instead of being forced to take them in person in examination halls.

The students from Peshawar University told RFE/RL that they attended classes throughout the year online due to the COVID-19 pandemic and want to be examined under those same virtual conditions.

They also demanded a reduction in tuition fees since they did not attend classes in person, and said that boarding schools should not be charging for lodging or meals.

The Pakistani government closed down all educational institutions last November in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus across the South Asian nation.

Many educational institutions have already reopened their doors or will be reopening soon. They have said there was no reason why examinations need to be conducted virtually.

Last week, a similar protest was held by students from the National University of Modern Languages in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad.

Meanwhile, Peshawar University has officially informed teachers and other employees that it may not be able to pay their full salaries this month.

"The university is facing financial constraints and finds it very hard to meet its expenses given a very low budget," Yureed Ahsan Zia, a top university official, told RFE/RL.

Zia said the university's monthly expenditures total up to 280 million rupees ($1.74 million), “which is much more than the grant provided by the government and the money collected in terms of tuition fees from students."

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) -- the federal body that provides grants to government universities across Pakistan -- has been informed about the university’s budgetary problems but hasn’t provided any solution so far, he said.

Local lawmaker Ayesha Bano, who is also an adviser to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province’s chief education minister, said that the provincial authorities were planning to unveil a plan to address the problem on January 25.

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