As many as 52,000 candidates are appearing in class IX and X examinations of the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE), Saidu Sharif, this year in Swat, Shangla and Buner.
“The exams are being held in 187 centres, 34 of which are specified for girls. In some places combined centres have also been arranged,” BISE Swat Chairman Professor Mohammad Iqbal told The Express Tribune.
The number of entrants is thrice the number of students who appeared in exams held during the Taliban rule in the region, during which several educational institutions were targeted.
Only 18, 000 students had appeared in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination during that period. “The (student) strength is (now) three times higher. People generally thought that the number would decrease,” Iqbal said.
He said that floods had destroyed more than 100 schools and several of them are still inaccessible, especially the ones in Utror, Kalam, Matiltan Mankyal where roads remain cut-off.
“Special measures were taken for sending (question) papers over there on time,” he added.
Some educationalists, however, think that the student strength is still below the mark. President of the Private School Management Association Ziauddin Yousafzai told The Express Tribune: “The increase in numbers is not up to our expectations.” Referring to the level of students’ proficiency, he said: “More than 90,000 children were directly affected by the insurgency and floods. They have not had proper access to education and there are still no teachers in schools in inaccessible areas.”
The role of the BISE for education in the area is indispensible, but it still lacks some facilities. “Other boards, which were also set up in 1992 along with the Saidu Sharif Board, have their own buildings. Unfortunately, the board at Saidu Sharif does not have its own building yet. It does not even have its own vehicles to take papers to the examination centres on time,” Yousafzai said, adding that until the BISE has a building and a campus with all necessary facilities, the examination process can not be standardised.
The increase in the number of SSC candidates is a clear indicator that the future of Swati children will be brighter. However, the process of reconstructing the schools destroyed during militancy and floods is progressing at a very slow pace and the government needs to accelerate it.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2011.
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