Ominous signs: ETEA chief in hot waters as test irregularities surface

Published: October 22, 2018
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Peshawar High Court. PHOTO: FILE

Peshawar High Court. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: The head of the provincial testing service came under heavy criticism in court on Wednesday after students complained that the revised entrance tests for medical institutions in the province, held late last month, were riddled with mistakes and irregularities.

The criticism was handed out as a two-judge bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC), comprising justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim, heard a petition filed by student Arooj Kundi.

Kundi contended before the court that six multiple-choice questions (MCQs) included in the test were wrongly adjudged by the Education Testing and Evaluation Agency (ETEA) — responsible for preparing and conducting the test — since the answers given in the ETEA’s key were incorrect. Hence her right answers were termed as incorrect causing her to lose her chance to gain admission in a medical college in the province.

Kundi’s petition, filed through senior lawyer Asghar Kundi, told the court that thousands of similar complaints have thus far poured into the Chief Minister House after the test.

Kundi’s lawyer also produced the MCQ paper and its key before the court to demonstrate the errors. He pointed out how a simple question like “What is the opposite of sympathy?” had the incorrect answer of “Jealously” in the ETEA’s key while the student’s right answer of ‘Apathy’ had been declared as wrong.

The court subsequently directed the ETEA chief executive, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) director to appear before the court within an hour.

Previously, the PHC had told the ETEA chief Israrullah that not even a single mistake would be tolerated in the question paper and any irregularity would prompt an investigation by the FIA.

As the ETEA and NAB officials appeared in court, Justice Qaiser slammed the ETEA chief for his failure to conduct a flawless test.

“Why is there, once again, a question mark on your efficiency. Why again is there a controversy,” Justice Qaiser demanded Israrullah explain.

The ETEA chief, while accepting mistakes in two of the questions, explained that the paper was prepared and checked by professors of well-known educational institutions including the Islamia College and the Edwards College.

He added that the two questions with mistakes had been taken out from the test and all the papers were rechecked by a committee of professors and the marks of the students have been adjusted accordingly.

The court declared that action will also be taken against all those professors and remarked that the ETEA and it chief executive officer were incompetent to conduct a fair test for which they have previously changed the dates on three different occasions on different pretexts.

Justice Qaiser remarked that it was due to the selfishness of medical colleges that the students were suffering, and asked why should the system of gaining admissions to medical colleges not be reversed to the past system.

The bench has also directed teachers of the Edwards colleges, who have checked the papers per the ETEA chief, to appear before the court.

The bench said action they will check if such professors are able to teach in such a historical institution.

The bench also ordered all officials, including heads of the FIA, NAB and ETEA to reappear on Thursday (today) to decide the case.

“Some heads will roll in the process,” Justice Qaiser warned, as he told FIA director and NAB official that they will be handed a task by the court on Thursday.

Medical college entrance tests are conducted annually by the ETEA. This year more than 38,000 students appeared for the test, with each paying Rs1,600.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2018.

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