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Nationwide composite SSC exams still a far dream

ISLAMABAD, Aug 9: The government has failed to achieve uniformity of examination system at the secondary school certificate (SSC) level, as the provincial educational authorities have refused to toe the federal government's line on examination reforms.

Considering the opposition by the provincial boards, there is a strong possibility that the federal government would have to withdraw its decision to hold composite examination at the SSC level, a senior official close to the development said.

Despite opposition by all the four provinces, the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE) went ahead with the composite mode of examination of the SSC earlier this year.

As expected, a massive 50 per cent candidates who appeared in the SSC examinations were declared failed, which further strengthened the provinces' argument over the issue.

The FBISE also conducted examination under a "Reformed Examination System" whereby students have to attempt a new question paper, which was completely different from the old pattern.

Under the new format, 30 per cent of the questions were of MCQs type, 50 per cent short answers and 20 per cent of application nature.

Speaking at a press conference in May 2006, the FBISE chairman, Cdre (retired) Mohammad Sharif Shamshad, explained that the new examination system, a complete departure from old pattern, would focus more on checking the critical and analytical abilities of students.

"First time in the history of the country, a new examination system has been introduced, which will be adopted by other boards too later on," the board chairman claimed. However, so far none of the provinces have decided to accept the federal government's decision.

Meanwhile, despite clear indications by the provincial educational boards that they would not follow this new pattern, the FBISE did not bother and conducted the examinations on the new form.

Last year when this new examination system was introduced, teachers as well as students also criticised the decision, because such drastic changes could not be adopted at a short notice.

Teachers had argued that if the government wanted to introduce reforms in the examination system, it should be applied at least from class-V to make students and teachers accustomed to this new form of examination.

The FBISE used to conduct examination at the SSC level separately for class-IX and X, and in 2002-03 on the federal boards' initiative, the provincial educational boards also began carrying out their examination on the same pattern. Earlier, except for Sindh and FBISE, rest of the provinces used to hold composite examinations at matric level.

Now when the provinces have conveyed their decision not to follow the composite form of examination, the federal education ministry officials are also considering reverting to separate examinations at matric level, the official said.

Though Federal Education Minister Lt-Gen (retired) Javed Ashraf Qazi has repeatedly reiterated that he would continue with the new examination system, considering the ground realities it was just not possible, according to the official.

Replying to another question, the official said with the present education minister having only few months left in the office, he did not have enough time to persuade the provinces.

The Sindh province had publicly announced that it would not go for composite examinations of SSC, whereas other provinces, though yet to come on record on this issue, are also sticking to the old pattern. Dawn
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Updated: 14 Oct, 2014
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