‘Boards need more resources to conduct transparent exams’

Transparent exams need financial resources, while the Sindh government has to pay more than Rs3 billion under the head of exempted examination fees of government schools.

‘Boards need more resources to conduct transparent exams’

By Arshad Yousafzai

‘Boards Need More Resources To Conduct Transparent Exams’: In the coming meetings, the Inter Board Committee of Chairmen will consider the matter of raising passing marks of intermediate classes from 33 per cent to 45 per cent to meet the admission requirement of varsities.

In 2017, the Sindh government had exempted exam fees of the government students and vowed to reimburse the total amount to the boards through the finance department.

However, since 2018 the boards have not been paid the outstanding amount due to which the examination boards have suffered a financial crisis. At present, the Sindh government has to pay more than Rs3 billion to the boards.

“The finance department treated the due amount as a grant or financial aid. Though the amount isn’t aid or grant, it’s the amount that the government would pay in the account of exempted examination fees,” says Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK) and IBCC chairman Prof Dr Saeeduddin.

During an interview with The News, he said students who receive less than 45 per cent in the Higher Secondary School Certificate exams can’t secure admissions to varsities as per the Higher Education of Pakistan rules.

This is why, a majority of such students stop their education. Very few students, however, improve their grades after appearing in the supplementary exams. This trend should be discouraged.

“In the coming meeting of the IBCC, I would take up the issue with other boards’ chairmen to raise the passing marks from 33 per cent to 50 per cent marks. If they approved the proposal, all the students would be able to get admissions to varsities and postgraduate programs after their HSSC exams.”

Talking about mental stress, Prof Saeeduddin said students of intermediate classes attempt six papers along with practical exams annually. Therefore, conducting annual exams is not a good idea. “In my opinion, the boards should conduct biannual exams of HSSC so that the burden of exams could be reduced.”

About the cheating culture, he said that generally, people believe that boards don’t maintain the quality of education, but it’s not true. Boards conduct exams only. They are the schools maintaining the quality of education. Karachi’s state-run schools are far better than the public schools functioning in rural areas of the province, he opined.

Those who observe the exam process from outside are actually unaware of the challenges being faced by the boards. Boards are self-governed bodies generating funds to run the system through those funds.

He suggested that an external review committee comprising university professors, controllers of examinations, security officials, and education experts should be formed by the provincial government to monitor the exam process in each region of the province. The committee should be tasked to point out loopholes in the system.

“We will happily accept constructive suggestions for conducting transparent exams. But our so-called experts have no solutions, apart from criticism.” To conduct exams, the boards only prepare question papers, make arrangements and issue results, while examiners and invigilators come from the education department. Therefore, it’s a very strenuous task for boards to find out who is actually involved in leaking papers.

“If our investigation agencies thoroughly investigate a case of any leaked examination paper, they would easily expose whether the board officials were involved in leaking the paper or they were the examiners.”

He also said that the boards should go online to minimise human interaction. The digitalisation of boards would decrease the chances of corruption and human errors. Also, an online system would save time and the candidates would get resolved their problems in real time.

In terms of quality, local boards can’t be compared with foreign boards such as Cambridge. The reason is that a majority of the boards in Pakistan are public instituitions.

They charge nominal exam fees and conduct examinations for low-fee private schools and government schools. However, the emergence of private boards would create a competitive environment among public and private sectors. Resultantly, only those boards would be considered better which maintained quality.

It would be a healthy competition. However, the public boards are dealing with state-run schools where the quality of education is not good while private boards would have a chance to affiliate only the schools of choice.

Originally published at The news international