KARACHI: Thousands of students turned up at public schools on Thursday for their rescheduled science exams, only to get xeroxed copies of the leaked question papers that had led to the cancellation of the exam on February 26.
Around two weeks ago, Karachi school education director Niaz Ahmed Laghari had called off the exams after reports surfaced that the question papers for students of grade six, seven and eight in 224 girls’ secondary schools across the city have been leaked, at least 12 hours prior to the exam.
Laghari then formed a three-member inquiry committee, consisting of education department officials Hamid Karim, Saleem Awan and Shahid Hussain, to investigate the incident through the Karachi director for girls’ secondary and higher secondary schools, Syeda Neelofar Ali, who was responsible for setting the questions.
Keeping in mind that earlier blunder on part of the directorate, both the students as well as the teachers appeared equally surprised at this follow up. However, fearing a backlash, they were reluctant to express their reactions.
At the Government Girls High School in Landhi 36-B, girls could not help but giggle a little in amusement as they skimmed through the question paper - in contrast to the sterner reaction of their teachers, who declared the three-hour exam, “a waste of time.”
“This simply boggles my mind. Why were the exams called off in the first place?” asked a teacher who wanted to remain anonymous. “We received the same question papers from the authority [the directorate of girls’ secondary and higher secondary schools] for the rescheduled exam.”
She explained that they had no choice but to give the same question papers to students as the directorate had taken up the idea of “centralised examinations” for grades six to eight, on the pattern of Matriculation and Intermediate exams, where the schools and colleges have no role in making the timetable and setting the question papers.
Rather than providing any justification for this bizarre incident, Ali refused to comment. “I do not talk to journalists,” she told The Express Tribune when contacted.
However, the education department’s additional chief secretary, Dr Fazlullah Pechuho, when approached by The Express Tribune, said that Ali will be removed from the post due to her consistent ‘educational malpractices’. “The system has deteriorated so much that we will have to take some bold steps,” said Dr Pechuho. “They [the education department district officers] are not kids who need to be told what is appropriate and what is not.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2014.
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