ISLAMABAD: While a fact-finding body is probing the causes of the disappointing results of the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) exams in 2016, the documents the FPSC submitted in parliament reveal that most failing candidates were graduates of Punjab University, Peshawar University and Karachi University.
The results stirred a national debate about the nature of tests, techniques and reasons behind a perpetual decline in scores. Recently a parliamentary committee sought a report from the FPSC about the appalling results and reasons behind the poor showing.
According to the results released in October, as many as 9,643 candidates sat the CSS written test. However, only 202, or 2.09% of the candidates, qualified. This is the lowest percentage of successful students since 2011. A detailed report about over 150 universities nationwide paints a dismal picture.
Record drop in CSS pass rate sparks concern
The highest number of candidates [1,466] was from Punjab University. But 1,444 students of the university failed the test and only 22 were declared pass. Around 462 students of Peshawar University appeared in the exams but only five of them made the grade.
Similarly, only four candidates out of 379 graduates of Karachi University were able to pass the test while three students out of 329 graduates of Bahauddin Zakariya University were declared passed.
Given the performance of the candidates, Nust stood out as the most successful. About 19 graduates of Nust were successful in passing the written test which is the second highest number after Punjab University. As many as 157 Nust graduates failed the written test but their aggregate is better in terms of pass-fail ratio of over 150 varsities.
Only four universities were able to reach the double digits in terms of successful candidates. These include Punjab University (22), Nust (19), Lahore University of Management Sciences (16), University of Engineering and Technology Lahore (11).
At the provincial level Punjab had the highest share of 146 successful candidates followed by 18, 29 and 4 from the K-P, Sindh, Balochistan respectively. Only one candidate passed the test from Gilgit-Baltistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas and four from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
The traditional gender disparity is also apparent in the test results as about 116 male and 86 female candidates passed the written test. Lahore had the highest number of successful candidates where 91 candidates out of 2,730 cleared the written test, followed by 39 from Islamabad, 18 from Rawalpindi and less than 10 from the rest of the major cities in the country.
Declining CSS results leave top recruiter scratching its head
An initial report from the FPSC submitted before parliament states: “For various reasons, the pass percentage remained significantly low, which is a matter of great concern…this indicates deteriorating standard of education in universities, colleges.”
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat in October sought a complete report from the FPSC about the reasons for the significant decline in the number of passing candidates. The number of vacant seats is also increasing every year, and at present 431 posts are lying vacant.
The examiners’ subject-wise reports uploaded on the FPSC website present a gloomy picture of the approach and understanding of the candidates. One of the examiners noted that some candidates were not serious.
Several examiners suggested a screening or pre-examination or screening test for the candidates before the actual written test. Interestingly, the suggestion has been awaiting approval of the federal cabinet since 2013.
As per the FPSC report about 92% (8,894) candidates failed English précis and composition while 81% (7,841) students failed the English Essay exam. Similarly, about 50%, 43% and 36% failed the general knowledge I, II and III, respectively.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2016.
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