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Should International IB schools in Thailand be conducting on-site exams at this time?

Tim Newton



A student has sent The Thaiger this email addressing their concerns about the continuation of exams in the current situation. The government have closed down all schools and any further teaching needs to be online. Except, it appears, for some international schools which seem intent on going ahead with on-site exams. What do you think about this person’s letter? The Thaiger has decided to withhold the writer’s name.

Share your thoughts below.


Dear Sir/ Madam

I’m currently doing my IB Diploma Programme here in Thailand, it is with great concern that I’m writing this email as such a situation has never happened to me before as Thailand is experiencing a third wave more powerful than the previous waves of the current ongoing pandemic.

44 IB Schools in Thailand have transmissions within the communities of every prominent international school in Thailand, a new strain of covid, record-breaking case numbers, a lockdown being passed through today, and then there is the audacity to act as if it is fine to do exams. Compared to the rest of the examinations such as IGCSE, GCSE, CIE etc. Have all been cancelled, but the IB is still reluctant to cancel theirs. Currently, as per the governmental order in Thailand, all schools, malls and social gathering have to be closed for two weeks with also a limitation of up to 50 people in a room like environment.

Having said that most of the international schools are protesting against this idea as they think it’s perfectly fine to continue with examinations, aren’t we humans? Aren’t we individuals that are vulnerable to such a pandemic? In the end, if we end up getting covid it will be blamed as our fault, will our school take responsibility for it? Would the IBDP take responsibility for each and every single person infected with the virus? Or in a worst-case scenario, we won’t be able to sit exams hence it will be postponed, this is such an absurd concept some of us have been selected into universities, where such an option will keep us in a bad position.

I do not understand how even now the IB is not considering the life of students that will be impacted by this decision. You are placing a group of students who have visited numerous locations outside the school environment who may have interacted with different people outside their family, been to covid-risk areas, in a room with the rest of the students. Isn’t the IBDP thinking about the possible transmission through airborne interactions with peers and teachers? Sitting at the same desk the student has interacted with for multiple tests with different people. Life is at stake, please understand the concept that we are students, we are normal people and some of us do not have a strong financial hold so getting such a virus or even an infection puts us in a vulnerable situation with the existing problem.

Thank you for taking your time to read this email. I hope that you understand that cancelling CIE, IGCSE and GCSE have forced multiple concerns to arise, that being said we are also students just like them, and the IB should realize that soon enough so they can make a change, because at the end of the day if one of us gets infected that’s fully impacting us personally, not the schools making us sit exams. Could you please write something on this please as many of us students are affected by this.

Hoping to hear from you soon.

(Writer’s name withheld)


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  1. Avatar


    Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 6:09 pm

    It’s most definitely a real concern the way the current situation is being “handled”.

  2. Avatar


    Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 6:42 pm

    Maybe this student isn’t ready yet to do exams and uses this opportunity to get it postponed so he/she can quickly get up to date; at least that’s what I would do… But then again, I am more worried about the teachers than the students regarding getting severe health problems. That’s why I think the exams should be postponed until this third wave is under control.

  3. Avatar


    Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 7:11 pm

    Absolutely NOT! IB students SHOULD NOT be sitting the exams during the new outbreak, particularly when the non-examination route provides a viable alternative.

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    Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 7:12 pm

    With COVID-19 cases reaching an all time high in Thailand, it seems wise to follow COVID-19 prevention protocols as they have been stated and NOT make exceptions. Continuing exams proves to be too logistically difficult, too dangerous and too ignorant. Responsibility of problems falls on the school, which we assure you is not a desirable outcome. The IB has created the dual path-way to allow flexibility during the pandemic. It’s the general consensus that continuing exams is more detrimental to our students, rather than beneficial. Considering that all CIE and Pearsons IGCSE and A level exams have been cancelled overnight in light of the increased number of COVID cases in Thailand, specifically Bangkok, why is the IB still adamant on going forwards with the exam route? Although the IB exams are vital for the futures of our children and undoubtedly serve as an invaluable tool, this fails to consider the drastic implications continuing exams will have on our community.

  5. Avatar


    Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    I think it’s absurd for these schools to hold exams. It undermines everything the government has been doing to avoid the brunt of a third wave. Moreover, some of these kids have respiratory conditions – there exists the possibility of death for them. Put the kids’ safety at number one on the priority list, the IB seem to have non-exam route for a reason.

  6. Avatar


    Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 7:26 pm

    Continuing exams will create liabilities as people may spread the virus unknowingly as seen in Samut Prakan. With this information and the reasons aforementioned in the article, I believe it’s justified for International Schools to cancel IB examinations and switch to the Non-Exam route like several other countries.

  7. Avatar


    Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 10:04 pm

    soon they’ll realize we’re only human students afterall

  8. Avatar

    James Engel

    Sunday, April 18, 2021 at 10:06 pm

    I am about to watch a 2nd graduating class get disrupted at my daughter’s International School due to COVID. I guess rather than shut down everything completely (including exams that will have a direct impact on a graduating students further), might I suggest that we ask a different question? Why don’t we, as Dr. Fauci says, follow the science and ask ‘Under what conditions can we guarantee the integrity of the IB exams AND keep the students safe?’. Use science and design thinking to have schools, parents and students find the best way. This would be challenging but solvable. After all, they are IB students and schools, right? :^) Good luck on solving the wicked problem, study hard and be safe.

  9. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Monday, April 19, 2021 at 9:37 am

    Learning, practical face to face tuition, sports, extra-vcurricular activities, etc, are all undoubtedly safer and better done on line at the moment, but exams?

    Exams are the one aspect of schools that CAN be done safely with minimal inconvenience or disruption, maintaining social distancing and more.

    There’s no logical reason not to, other than the principle and fear of failure.

  10. Avatar

    IB Student

    Monday, April 19, 2021 at 11:41 am

    Why do some people want to take exams so badly? even if it is to get better grades it doesn’t seem to be worth the risk of getting a virus which will affect the rest of our lives negatively.

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 41 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented over 10,000 radio news bulletins, 3,900 in Thailand alone, hosted 650 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. As founder of The Thaiger, Tim now acts as the Content Manager and head-writer, whilst supervising the growth of the YouTube channel. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand.

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