KARACHI: Examinations are usually a frightening ordeal: the long hours of preparation, scribbling furiously in the exam hall and then weeks of wallowing in anxiety while waiting for the results. But this is not the case for students sitting for papers set by the Aga Khan University Examination Board (AKU-EB).
They enjoy sitting the exams because the board does not stifle their creativity or award them marks only if their scripts are Xerox copies of textbooks. The board has not only helped them better prepare for college but secure admission to them in the first place. According to Aga Khan University’s president, Firoz Rasul, around 87 per cent of the students secure admission into Pakistan’s leading universities. “This year, around 98 per cent of AKU-EB students who sat the NED University of Engineering and Technology’s entrance test cleared it,” he said. “The increase in admissions to international universities was almost three times higher than 2010.”
At the board’s annual award ceremony organised on Wednesday at Aga Khan University’s auditorium, the high achievers were awarded for their brilliant performances. The board’s director, Dr Thomas Christie, recalled that the private examination board was set up in 2003 with an intention to restore people’s confidence in secondary and higher secondary school certificates, previously awarded only by public sector organisations. The board’s first exams were held around six years back and since then, it has come a long way. It is now affiliated with around 150 schools and colleges in 40 cities across the country.
During the ceremony, the examination board awarded 160 distinctions in different subjects to students who sat the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) exams this year in May in around 40 cities across Pakistan – from Karachi to Chitral. Cash prizes were also awarded to the top three SSC and HSSC position holders.
The top SSC students were Syed Wahaj Ahmed from Shahwilayat Public School, followed by Sadaf Batool Rizvi from Al Murtuza School. Sheharyar Farooq and Zahra Hussaini from Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan School and Habib Girls’ Higher Secondary School respectively shared the third position.
The top HSSC students were Anum Zehra Raza from Aga Khan Higher Secondary School who scored 91 per cent. Hafsa Jawed from Habib Girls’ Higher Secondary School secured the second position with 90.8 per cent. Third position went to Adil Shah from Aga Khan Higher Secondary School in Gahkuch, Gilgit-Baltistan.
In his keynote address, the managing director of Geo News, Azhar Abbas, asked the students to remember that graduation is only a concept. “Your schooling may be over but in real life, a person graduates every day and this process of learning continues till last breath,” he said. “Those of us who understand this can make a difference.”
An HSSC graduate, Hafsa Jawed, who is now enrolled at Dow University of Health Sciences, told The Express Tribune that the examination board had definitely helped her prepare well for college. “I was tested on how well I understood the concepts rather than how much I could write on an answer script.”
Zahra Hussaini, a student, said that instead of confining them to one prescribed textbook, the examination board encourages them to scour the internet and a plethora of books to come up with their own answers. “When I finally sat the exam and came across conceptual and tricky questions, I really enjoyed doing them.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2012.
Correction: The caption under the photo on an older version of the article carried as spelling mistake. The error has been rectified.