Sitting out fifth grade

Over 15,000 students in Sialkot have been forced to sit out the fifth grade board examination.


Express February 02, 2011

SIALKOT: Over 15,000 students in the Sialkot division have been unable to appear in the fifth grade board examination because they were not issued their roll number slips in time.

On Tuesday afternoon, parents of thousands of students protested outside the offices of the Sialkot EDO (Education). Fifth grade examinations have commenced all over the province and thousands of students have been unable to sit their exams this year. “We have been complaining to the Education Department for over a month because of issues with the registration but nothing was done,” said Razia Farooq’s mother Naila. The new registration involves downloading the forms and processing them online and there have been repeated issues with the Education Department’s server.

Residents said that the Sialkot Education Department needed to be held accountable for the fact that over 15,000 students were not issued roll number slips for this year’s exams. “These students might miss an entire year of schooling because of computer glitches and delays and no one seems to care enough to do something,” said government school teacher Kashif.

Parents of several fifth graders complained that even students who were allowed to sit their exams faced a lot of problems. “The exam papers arrived three hours late and students remained locked in the examination hall for hours,” said fifth grade student Liaqat’s father Rahman Qamar.  Parents said that many exam centres did not even have furniture or stationary and students were forced to sit on the floors or outside in the sun. “If anything, these exams should make the education department improve services for students but things are only getting worse,” said a government girls’ school teacher Sadaf.

Over a thousand protesters gathered outside the EDO education’s office on Tuesday and protested for several hours. “While our children were waiting to get their exam papers in the hall, we have decided to protest to make the authorities take action,” Qamar said.

The EDO’s office refused to comment on the situation and Education Department officials have previously stated that the new online system is being implemented throughout the province. Earlier in the year, parents protested about registering their children online and Education Department officials clarified that several glitches in the online database were being repaired. “We have been hearing about the repairs for nearly a month now but it isn’t making any difference. I understand that the new system will take time but that doesn’t mean that my children shouldn’t get into school,” said Fatima Sultan’s mother Iraj.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2011.

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