Streamlining the exam system

The whiff of scandal around the recently-concluded matriculation examinations was too overpowering

Editorial April 25, 2018

The air of indifference surrounding the appointment of the heads of seven boards of intermediate and secondary education in Punjab is threatening to undermine the fairness and transparency of the whole examination system in the province. Instead of having their own chosen heads, the boards in Gujranwala, Sargodha and Sahiwal are being led for the past year by divisional commissioners. The situation is not dissimilar in Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan and Bahawalpur boards. Such temporary measures would have been deemed useful if they had brought about a certain measure of success or weeded out malpractices from the system. But that has not happened at all. Under the supervision of divisional commissioners, the whiff of scandal around the recently-concluded matriculation examinations was too overpowering to be ignored.

One wonders why the provincial administration persisted with the system and chose to invest so heavily in it given the breaches reported by the media. From paper leaks to missing answer sheets, the boards in Rawalpindi and Gujranwala have been found wanting. Allegations that question papers prepared by the Sahiwal board were shared via WhatsApp before the examination are hardly comforting. In the interest of transparency, the authorities in the province ought to fix all these issues which have cast a long shadow over the process. More so, because intermediate examinations are due in a matter of weeks.

As such divisional commissioners have a lot on their plates such as undertaking development programmes and performing other important assignments and duties of the commissioner’s office. It is hardly fair to expect them to perform well as heads of the board of intermediate and secondary education or deal with malpractices in the examination system. So let us replace them with individuals more suited to the requirement of the education sector before it is too late.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2018.

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