Only two of the top 20 position holders of the Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) exams in Peshawar managed to pass admission tests for medical and dental colleges and the University of Engineering And Technology in Peshawar. While some blamed it on the students’ lack of preparation, a few accused private colleges of manipulating board authorities into putting their students on the top.
The remaining 18 position holders failed the Educational Testing and Evaluation Agency (ETEA) entrance test for 2014. The students who did pass the ETEA tests in Peshawar had earlier scored ordinary grades in their HSSC examinations.
A similar pattern was noticed in previous years, when students who topped HSSC’s annual examinations failed their ETEA tests.
According to HSSC results, Hiba Noor of Jinnah College for Women clinched first position in the pre-medical group with 997 out of 1,100 marks, while Hira Motasim of the same institute came second with 996 marks. Meanwhile, Nazneen Liaquat and Meher shared third place with 994 marks, each.
In the pre-engineering group HSSC exams, Muhammad Yasir of Islamia College Peshawar took first place with 973 marks, Noorul Ain of Peshawar Model Degree College, Dalazak Road second with 969 marks and Adil Bashir of Islamia College Peshawar came third with 966 marks.
From HSSC to ETEA
However, only Nazneen from the city’s HSSC position holders made it to the top four pre-medical ETEA test results, with 670 out of 800 marks. She shared the position with Peshawar’s Muhammad Rizwan, while the ETEA test was topped by Inamullah Khan from Mardan with 695 marks, followed by Israr Khan of Karak who managed 675 marks.
From pre-engineering, the only HSSC position holder to pass the test was Adil Bashir.
Poor prep or poor monitoring?
Education experts at the University of Peshawar, requesting anonymity, said private colleges wanted their students to gain admission to the best colleges. To this end, many of them allegedly used illegal means such as booking entire examination halls for their students or manipulating board authorities into placing their students in the top positions, claimed the experts.
On the other hand, Board of Intermediate & Secondary Education Chairman Prof Dr Muhammad Shafi Afridi believed there were other reasons for top students failing the ETEA. He said students were either not properly prepared or unfamiliar with modern testing techniques such as “negative marking”. Afridi was referring to the same students who had just aced their secondary board exams.
He suspected a third factor could be that the prospective entrants suffered stress as they were not used to sitting with such a large number of students at the same place.
Afridi denied there were any illegal methods being used to secure top positions in ETEA examinations. He said teams visit the examination centres for inspection and take action against anyone caught using unfair means. The chairman said it was also impossible for any institution to ‘ask’ that their students top their exams or others be failed for the same end.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2014.