KARACHI: At a time when the country, especially Sindh, is reeling from the adverse effects of sluggish growth and thousands of youth are struggling to find employment, the upper age limit of the recently announced Combined Competitive Exams (CCE) 2013 has only increased their woes.
The Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC) advertised 182 positions through the competitive exam scheduled for November. According to the advertisement, the upper age limit for unemployed candidates is 28 while for those employed it is 35.
The announcement left thousands of unemployed aspirants dejected as the age limit fixed by the government has made them ineligible for the exam. The candidates are gearing up to knock the doors of the court to get a reprieve in case the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah doesn’t approve the rumoured summary for age relaxation moved by the Services and General Administration Department.
A large number of affected candidates from different cities, including Larkana, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Khairpur and Karachi, vented their anger against the provincial government and demanded re-issuance of the age relaxation notification that lapsed in the last week of June. “It is rather illogical to announce the exam in the first week of July when the same could have been done in the last week of June to facilitate the candidates,” questioned Ronaq Behan, an affected aspirant from Khairpur.
The exam has a history of being marred by mismanagement and inordinate, unexplained delays. For instance, the previous CCE was supposed to be held in 2008 but was conducted in 2009. To make matters worse the result was announced in 2010 while the final merit list was released in 2011 and the training could only begin in 2012. The last such exercise was carried out in 2003.
Earlier, the government had allowed a 10-year extension for five years in the upper age limit for CCE 2008 that expired in June this year.
“The age limit of 28 is justified only if the government conducts exams regularly unlike the current practice,” said Behan. “This is a joke with the unemployed youth of the province.”
Larkana’s Yaseen Buriro severely criticised the Pakistan Peoples Party for playing with the future of competent candidates. “We have been waiting for the exam for the past several years and now this injustice has been meted out to us,” he said.
The irregular exams do not only deprive the candidates to sit for the exam but also deny several students the chance to avail all three attempts. “In all other provinces the candidates get a chance to appear thrice but in Sindh most candidates do not get to sit the exam at all,” lamented Buriro.
Government jobs are highly coveted in Sindh and this together with the very limited opportunities means students start preparation during their university years.
“This issue is specifically painful for aspirants hailing from rural areas as due to lack of awareness children are enrolled in school relatively late,” reasoned Ali Asghar Lakho from Benazirabad. “We are left with no other option but to seek justice from the courts.”
Backing their claims with numbers, Aftab Mahesar from Naushehro Feroze pointed out the steep increase in the number of aspirants due to rising unemployment. He said that 2,500 candidates appeared in CCE 2003, 9,500 in CCE 2008 while 20,000 are expected to sit for CCE 2013. “Half of them will be affected if the notification is not renewed.”
An official of the services department, meanwhile, confirmed to The Express Tribune that a summary has been sent to the CM House. “They have not sent it back yet but unemployment is a genuine issue and the candidate should expect some concession from the provincial government.”
The three year extension did not find many takers as most of the candidates demanded at least a 10-year relaxation. It remains to be seen whether the candidates will have their way or not.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2013.