KARACHI: For matriculation students around the city, the day of judgement is not far away.
The much dreaded ‘board exams’ have started. Sixteen-year-old boys and girls bite their nails as they sit and prepare for the Secondary School Certificate-part II examinations which started on Thursday.
Most of the well-known tuition centres concluded their classes a week ago, as studious students busy themselves to perfect their rote-learned answers while others go out to buy guess papers.
Unfortunately, unlike other boards which urge students to gain a better understanding of the subject, the Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK) refrains from testing the students’ analytical skills.
Bookshop owners in the city explain how this affects their business.
Abdullah Aziz, who owns Aziz Book Centre in Chandni Chowk near Stadium Road, told The Express Tribune that book sales increase during exam season. “Although students come to the store, they do not buy reference books,” he said. “Two of the most sought books are the five-year solved exam papers and guess papers.” He added that he had sold around 200 copies of solved paper for class IX and X, which usually cost between Rs90 and Rs120.
When it comes to guess papers, Muhammad Siddique from Gilani Book Centre said that despite Prof. A U Khan’s death, his brainchild, the guess paper formula has been going strong for four decades. “Many students are oblivious to the fact that now a publisher is just making money using Khan’s name,” said Ismail who claimed to be in the publishing business since 1961.
Sealed inside an envelope with A U Khan Guess Papers written on top, the predicted questions were available at almost every bookstore in Urdu Bazaar with prices varying from Rs25 to Rs30.
Although no one knows who the brains behind the guess papers are, many believe that some influential members and professors of BSEK secretly work together to help the students. Bookshop owners do not agree. According to Ismail, he could prepare a guess paper on his own as the question and exam pattern has not changed in years.
For the students who do not bother with books, solved or guess papers, there is an easier yet much risky way out – pocket guides, which are an abridged version of solved papers and come in handy for copying answers during exams. These pocket guides which are available for Rs15 and Rs30, are sold under the counters at bookshops in residential areas and over the counter in Urdu Bazaar.
Aziz claimed that these pocket guides were not available at his store because the policemen deployed at the examination centre accused them of aiding students in cheating and asked for money.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2012.