Medical college entrance tests: The apathy of sympathy vs jealousy

PHC halts admission process and directs rechecking of all papers, chief secretary to probe ETEA affairs

Hidayat Khan October 19, 2018
Peshawar High Court. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: In a surprising move, the admission process for medical colleges in the province was halted on Thursday until professors from the University of Peshawar can cross check the entry test papers and submit a report to the court.

A probe was also ordered into the affairs of the provincial testing agency.

This was directed by a two-judge bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC), comprising Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim, as they heard a writ petition of student Arooj Kundi.

Arooj had contended 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 deemed incorrect causing her to lose her chance to gain admission in a medical college in the province.

During Thursday’s hearing, professors from the Edwardes College and the Islamia College —who had prepared and checked the paper — appeared before the court to explain why some of the questions included in the paper were incorrect.

Each professor, though, had their own set of explanations and arguments why incorrect questions were included. Their answers, though, were termed as unsatisfactory by the court.

“All those questions were confusing and out of the grasp of Federal Science (FSc) students,” remarked Justice Qaiser.

Muhammad Iqbal, an associate professor of the English Department, claimed that he had been teaching for 19 years and that all the questions he had contributed towards the test were correct. He further said that the questions were set for the purpose of curiosity.

The bench, though, refused to accept his arguments.

“The questions were confusing and ridiculous,” stated Justice Qaiser. “It is very unfortunate. We have serious doubt on your academic degree.”

The professor, though, was adamant that the antonym of ‘sympathy’ was ‘jealousy’ as included in the key for the test. But the petitioning student reiterated that the correct antonym was ‘apathy’.

Edwardes College Principal Dr Nayer Fardows told the court that he would not take any responsibility for questions in the paper since he did not assign any teacher of the institute to either prepare or check ETEA’s paper.

Moreover, he said that none of the teachers from his institution had been included in the committee to check ETEA papers.

His declaration came despite the fact that ETEA Chief Executive Officer Israrullah had specifically told the court in the last hearing that teachers in the checking committee were also from Edwardes College.

When Assistant Advocate General Syed Sikandar Shah was directed to explain the view of the K-P government on the issue and what they were doing to provide justice to students, he responded that the ETEA was an autonomous body, therefore, the provincial government does not want to interfere into the matter.

The bench remarked that injustice with students is continuing under the watchful eyes of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and the provincial chief secretary.

They have to interfere, the court thundered and directed that the K-P chief secretary look into the affairs of ETEA and submit a report to the court.

Further, the University of Peshawar vice chancellor was directed to cross-check the medical college entry tests and submit a report to the court within three weeks.

The bench also ordered the removal of those teachers from ETEA test committee who had prepared and checked the entry test paper since none of the teachers, who appeared in the court, could defend the answers.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2018.

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