Cambridge Assessment International Education’s (CAIE) recent announcement of a 16% increase in exam registration fees per subject for its upcoming examination series has sparked frustration among parents and students in Pakistan.
The UK-based provider of international qualifications, which is widely relied upon by Pakistan’s private education sector, has faced backlash from 85,000 students and their families, who are struggling with rising inflation.
According to local reports, the increase in fees will amount to around Rs. 10,000 per session for standard O’ Level 10th graders taking Pakistan Studies, Islamiyat, and Urdu exams, and an increase of almost Rs. 15,000 per session for 11th graders taking five subjects, including English, Mathematics and the three natural sciences. Additionally, for A-Level students, the total fee increase for three standard natural science subjects is around Rs. 6,000.
Many parents have expressed disappointment with the fee hike, highlighting that Pakistan’s public education system is not equipped to provide internationally recognized qualifications. “If our own education system were of a superior standard, we would not be spending extra money on private foreign education,” said one parent.
Education experts in Pakistan have also criticized the fee increase, arguing that CAIE’s monetary policies are implemented without considering the specific socio-economic circumstances within the country, which greatly multiply the financial burden on students and their families.
In response to the backlash, CAIE stated that their fee in Pakistan is the lowest in the world and that the increase was necessary to maintain the quality of their programs. The organization also claimed to be aware of local economic conditions in Pakistan and that the increase in the fee was much less than the prevailing rate of inflation.