Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood on Thursday said that the government has issued a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) to the British Council to hold special O Level exams from July 26 till August 6. “We issued an NOC today to British Council allowing it to hold special O level exams from July 26 to August 6,” said in a statement. He added that the move will “facilitate O level students to start A level or FA/Fsc from September” this year, so as not to waste a year. “This kind of exam in July is unprecedented and I am happy that Cambridge is arranging it,” the federal minister said. After making the announcement about the NOC, the minister issued a separate tweet saying that the coronavirus pandemic has “created immense difficulties in all walks of life but especially in education”. Mehmood said that the government is taking difficult decisions to ensure that education and learning of students continues. “Every decision has pros and cons but for us the interest and welfare of students is always paramount,” emphasised the education minister. Meanwhile, some private school associations called for the reopening of educational institutions in the federal capital, citing a decrease in coronavirus cases. Last week, the Ministry of Federal Education had said all educational institutions would remain closed in Islamabad as its positivity was higher than 5 percent. The associations said the reopening of educational institutions was conditional to the coronavirus positivity ratio falling below 5%, while the rate of infection in the capital has gone down to 3% in recent days. “Despite a low coronavirus positivity ratio, the shutting down of schools in Islamabad is upsetting,” the associations said. The associations demanded the government immediately issue a notification allowing the schools to reopen in Islamabad.