Matric examinations in Sindh postponed until April 1

Protests by education boards’ employees paralyse preparation process for the examinations

Safdar Rizvi March 23, 2019

KARACHI: The annual matric exams scheduled to begin from Monday, March 25, across Sindh have now been postponed to April 1. The decision to delay the exams, was announced on Friday. Around 1.5 million students across Sindh, of which 350,000 are from Karachi, have been affected by this decision.

The examinations had to be rescheduled due to the lax attitude of the provincial department of universities and boards. A meeting was called by the Education Minister Sardar Ali Shah on Friday because the universities and boards department failed to settle the protests in the boards of intermediate and secondary education against the proposed Sindh Education Boards Regulatory Authority resulting in the Hyderabad board of education declaring on Thursday that the exams would be postponed.

The protests by boards’ employees, which spanned over two weeks, had paralysed the preparation process for the examination in the education boards of Hyderabad, Sukkur and Larkana. Although the preparation process was relatively better in the education boards of Karachi and Mirpurkhas, the decision to postpone exams by the Hyderabad board prompted the boards in Karachi and Mirpurkhas to make similar announcements.

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Education Minister Sardar Ali Shah took notice of the matter and called the meeting on Friday. The meeting was attended by the chairpersons of the educational boards, universities and boards secretary, school education secretary and college education secretary.

At the meeting Shah was informed by the chairpersons of educational boards that the protests by employees of the educations boards have been on-going since the Sindh Education Boards Regulatory Authority was announced in a meeting of the Sindh Higher Education Commission in February. The formation of such an authority would compromise the autonomy of the seven education boards across Sindh.

The education minister expressed the view that the examinations should begin at the same time across Sindh and it was decided that they will begin on April 1.

Shah assured the chairpersons of the educational boards, and the delegation representing the aggrieved employees waiting outside, that no such authority was being created as of now.

Sources said that the Universities and Boards Secretary Riazuddin Ahmed who had maintained a lax attitude over the protests informed the meeting that no such authority is being formed. The chairpersons of the education boards said that had the relevant secretary given these assurances earlier, such a situation would have been averted.

When The Express Tribune contacted Ahmed to ask about the postponement of examinations, he replied via a text message that this information was incorrect although he was present at the meeting.  However, when he asked that why the secrecy when the minister of education has stated that the exams have been postponed, the secretary confirmed that the exams have been delayed.

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Postponement across Sindh

Hyderabad Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) announced that the exams scheduled for March 25 will now be held on April 1. As per the announcement the new time table for the exams will be announced on Monday but the exams will be held in the same order as announced earlier.

The Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education Sukkur, Mirpurkhas and Larkana also postponed the exams scheduled for March 25. The three boards separately announced the postponement of secondary school certificate parts I and II examinations on Friday.

“[The exams are being] postponed due to some unavoidable circumstances,” said a statement from Sukkur BISE. “The exams are being postponed because of ongoing employees’ protests in all the boards in Sindh against setting up Sindh Education Boards Regulatory Authority,” said Mirpurkhas BISE Controller Exams Anwar Aleem Khanzada.

On Friday, the employees of the education boards from Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Sukkur and Larkana traveled to Karachi where they stage a sit-in protest outside the Chief Minister House.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2019.