The first phase of the intermediate exams under the Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK) kicked off on Monday as students moaned and groaned of load shedding at around 40% of the 87 examination centres across the city.
Altogether, around 43,000 students sat the Islamiat exam on the first day. It emerged that the biggest problem was not cheating but load shedding as the Karachi Electric Supply Company cut off power to three government colleges and offices of the Sindh education department because of unpaid bills. The colleges are Government College for Men in Nazimabad, Government Islamia Arts and Commerce College at MA Jinnah Road and Government College for Women at Shahra-e-Liaquat.
All in all, only 11 cases of cheating were reported.
The security was quite strict, contrary to before, and police personnel kept even the parents from entering the examination centres. At St Lawrence’s Government Girls Degree College near Gurumandir, the principal, Prof. Dr Mahjabeen Mukhtar, found this surprising and motivating. She said that external interference used to be a major concern because of lax security, but this year it was up to the mark. “We had to call the authorities multiple times to deploy security personnel but nobody used to pay us any heed.” But this year, the assistant commissioner of Jamshed Town came to see how things were soon after the exam began.
The principal of Adamjee Government Science College, Prof. AB Awan, also expressed his satisfaction with the performance of the city administration and law-enforcement agencies who did not take any political pressure when some people tried to enter the college in the morning.
BIEK’s chairman, Anwar Ahmed Zai, had asked journalists to accompany him to the centres, on Monday. The convoy, comprising Zai, BIEK’s examination controller, district central’s deputy commissioner and around six reporters and cameramen decided to pay a surprise visit to Abdullah Government College for Women where more than 1,000 students were appearing for the Islamiat exam.
According to the deputy commissioner, Dr Saifur Rehman, all the photocopiers in the vicinity of the examination centres were told to keep their shops closed during exam hours. The irony was that the only shop open was inside Abdullah college. It had been kept open by the principal for ‘official work’. Rehman was visibly irritated when he had to ask the principal, Prof. Ghulam Zehra Alavi, several times to close it.
The second stop was Jinnah Government College for Boys, which is situated right next to the BIEK office. “They should at least arrange some fans for us,” remarked Adnan Sami, one of around 700 candidates sitting in the dark and dismal Fancy Foundation Hall built in 1965.
The students tried hard to concentrate on writing while ignoring the beads of sweat dripping from their brows. Meanwhile, a student, Furqan Ishtiaq, who was busy thinking instead of writing, was asked by Zai to stand up so he could search him. Nothing objectionable was found on his person which seemed to disappoint Zai. However, an invigilator, assistant Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, did catch a student with an Islamiat guidebook.
This year, just an hour after the exam was over, the BIEK released the correct answers for the objective section of the exam on its website.
Besides this, how the question papers and answer scripts were transported was also tweaked a little bit. Previously transporting the exam essentials used to be the headache of the clerical staff. But now the question papers will reach the centres around 15 minutes before the exam, escorted by a grade 18 BIEK officer and another from the city’s divisional administration. “The board officer will stay at the centre. As soon as the exam will end he will bring the answer scripts back to the board office.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2012.