LAHORE: Experts and candidates have expressed their reservations over the new written test format the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) plans to introduce for recruitment on 2,506 posts of lecturers.
They say the introduction of objective-type questions in place of subjective questions would favour average candidates as well as increase chances of cheating.
Former director public instruction Jameel Najam feared that chances of cheating would increase in an exam based on objective-type questions. He suggested that the PPSC should follow the University of Health Sciences (UHS) model wherein order of questions on examination papers is different for each candidate.
Nadeem Ayaz, an applicant for lecturer in English, said it was nearly impossible to judge a candidate’s writing and comprehension skills through multiple choice and sentence completion questions. He said the test would favour average candidates by not requiring essays.
Several candidates The Express Tribune talked to also criticised the online submission of applications. Several candidates, particularly from remote areas of the province, said they did not have access to internet where they lived. They questioned the rationale for online submission when they were still required to personally deposit a hardcopy of the application at one of the PPSC offices. Some of them said they planned to move court against proposed new written test and online submission requirement.
A PPSC official told The Express Tribune that the PPSC had moved from subjective-type to objective-type to prevent the National Testing Service (NTS) from taking over the job. He said the Higher Education Department (HED) had intended that the NTS be handed over the task. However, PPSC chairman Lt General (retd) Syed Sabahat Hussain met with Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in March 2011 and convinced him to leave the task to the PPSC. He said it was also decided in the meeting that the PPSC would introduce an online application system.
The official said the commission had yet to arrange a consultative meeting with stakeholders on the issue.
Talking to The Express Tribune, PPSC Deputy Secretary Muhammad Zahid rejected the impression that there were any doubts about the utility of the proposed testing. He said short listing of candidates would be much quicker under the new method.
He said the PPSC Ordinance did not require the Commission to consult anyone about the way it would examine candidates. “It is the PPSC’s mandate to set question papers and evaluate the answers,” he said. The PPSC, he added, could also select candidates based on their academic profile alone.
About the online application system, he said there were no problems in the system. “It has already been tested during the recruitment of 798 medical officers,” he said.
He said information technology laboratories in all government high schools across the province could be used to fill out and submit the online application.
The PPSC had advertised 2,506 posts of lecturers (in basic pay scale-17) on August 8 first such advertisement in three years. Of the 2,506 posts, 1,456 are for men and 1,050 for women. Also, 126 posts have been reserved for minorities and 50 for the physically-handicapped.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2011.