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SSC exam cheating 'package'

Answer booklets for 2009 being used for current exams
Karachi, Apr 16: Despite tall claims and assurances made by the Board of Secondary Education, Karachi (BSEK), the sale of blank answer booklets for the ongoing Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Annual Examination-2010 is continuing unabated, it was learned.

Sources said that the "cheating mafia" has done roaring business this year by selling a "package" of blank answer booklets. Prospective buyers are able to buy the package for Rs8,000, sources said, explaining that the package consists of both the primary answer booklet and the supplementary answer booklet.

The primary answer booklet, also known as Copy A, costs Rs6, 000, while the supplementary answer booklet, Copy B, is priced at Rs2,000, sources said. "The mafia don't sell these booklets individually, and force their clients to purchase the complete package for Rs8,000. This practice makes the business more profitable," sources narrated.

Sources said that in the past, the cheating mafia had access to more options, such as arranging impersonators for 'favourite' candidates, making special rooms for candidates (who would pay handsome amounts in return), enrolling people who belong to other cities or provinces in ten papers (for combined examinations), and tampering with grand totals, percentages and grades of a candidate.

The Board had taken strict notice of mismanagement that took place till last year, and made some changes to the system to avoid the same practices this year, sources said. While corruption in the past allegedly took place in connivance with Board employees, this year the mafia could not resort to large-scale cheating, and hence, kept their focus on the sale of blank answer booklets and special rooms.

The cycle of fraud started at the Board office, sources said, where mafia representatives and their agents within the BSEK stamp answer booklets with particular serial numbers. The same serial numbers are then marked on the answer booklets arranged for prospective clients. "This option has some risks, but it works," sources said.

Sources described that candidates purchase blank answer booklets from agents of the mafia, and fill them outside their examination centres. "A completed answer booklet is supposed to be returned to a mafia representative during exam timings. For instance, a student of the General Group would have to hand over their booklets to the agent before noon. Likewise, candidates of the Science Group have to return their answer booklets by 5pm," sources said.

Candidates who avail this "facility" are bound to return their answer booklets on time, sources said, claiming that failure to do so results in the mafia absolving themselves of any responsibility. Once the mafia receives answer booklets from their clients, they pass them on to their agents at BSEK, who adjust these answer booklets according to serial numbers with other, genuine copies.

Further, sources said, the Board is using answer booklets which were printed in 2009. These sheets contain bear the signatures of the previous and the incumbent controller of examinations. When BSEK Secretary Hoor Bi Mazhar was asked for his version, he said that the Board had a huge quantity of leftover answering copies from last year, and the Board was using them in the annual examinations this year rather than destroying them. However, she added, the signature of Kalim Asghar Kirmani is also present on such booklets. Sources claimed that the mafia was initially trying to arrange special rooms in various centres across the city, but they did not get a great response from schools. However, some influential school managements succeeded in getting the examination centres for their students changed, as per their own choice. Sources disclosed that most examination centres were changed a couple of days before the annual examinations commenced. The news

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Matric cheaters won't get away with it in Inter
Karachi: As the Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK) examinations are about to begin on April 27, students are voicing their opinions about the differences they face in the standard of curriculum, the regularity of classes, the format of exam papers, and even the opportunities to cheat at exam centres compared to the secondary school certificate (SSC) exams.

Comparing the massive difference between the SSC and higher secondary certificate (HSC) curriculum, Nimrah Siddiqui, a pre-medical student of HSC Part II at Khatoon-e-Pakistan Government Degree College for Women said, "Both the quantity and quality at the intermediate level is higher, with more subjects and topics to cover. We were treated like mere babies at the SSC level."

When asked what can be done to ensure that students do not get the shock of their lives as they embark on their HSC studies, Danyal Shaikh, a pre-engineering student of HSC Part II at Aga Khan Higher Secondary School said, "The level of studies in SSC needs to be raised to a certain standard, so that people are able to cope with the higher level of education at the HSC level."

The trend of attending tuition centres among college students has increased manifold over the years. Most students rested the blame for this trend onto the college teachers who they accused do not give lectures regularly. Others admitted that they attend college only to conduct practicals and hence rely on coaching centres. However, Saroj Rizwan Khan, arts/humanities student of HSC Part II at BAMM PECHS Government College for Girls, had a different view and said, "At PECHS, which is a public college, regular classes are held daily and I, for one, have never felt the need to take tuitions."

The BIEK is introducing a new exam format this year, in which 70 percent of the questions are based either on objectives or questions that require short answers. On this recent change, Syeda Hiba Khalid an intermediate part II student of the General Science group at Govt Degree Science and Commerce College, Gulshan-e-Iqbal criticises, "The new format is problematic for students. Under this pattern, they have to study the entire syllabus to ensure that they do well at all the multiple choice questions." The rest of the students opine that although it was difficult at first to accept the new pattern, its rigorous nature is going to help students at the university level, where exams are even more thorough.

Commenting on the prevalent levels of cheating at exam centres, Samad Salim, a pre-engineering student at Government Degree Boys College, Gulzar-e-Hijri, explains, "In SSC there are a lot of opportunities to cheat. Students, who pay invigilators money, have a lot of options in their hands, from using notes to taking the exam in a separate room. Even those who don't pay anything can get away with asking answers to questions among each other." Nothing like this happens at intermediate exam centres, Samad tells. Saroj reiterates this. She says students get caught during Inter examinations, while "anyone can have a field day during the matriculation examinations if he or she pays the staff at the centre reasonably." Daily times

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Strategy to curb cheating: HSC exams to be held in two phases
Karachi: The Board of Intermediate Education Karachi has decided to conduct the higher secondary school certificate (Part-I and II) annual examinations in two phases to curb the use of unfair means by candidates.

The exams for mainly science and home economics groups will be conducted in morning shifts in the first phase beginning on April 27. In the second phase commencing on May 24, the exams for humanities and commerce group candidates will be held in both morning and afternoon shifts.

The plan was discussed at a board officials meeting, which was presided over by BIEK Chairman Prof Anwar Ahmed Zai, held on Wednesday to chalk out a strategy for effectively curbing the menace of use of unfair means.

Prof Zai said overall 250,000 candidates were likely to appear in the HSC annual exams.

He said around 100,000 candidates in science (pre-engineering and pre-medical), science general, home economics and medical technology groups and in the categories of special children, diploma in physical education, improvement of marks/grades and additional subjects would appear in the first phase of exams, scheduled to start on April 27.

He said that 100 examination centres had been set up at government colleges, six at private colleges and four exam centres had been set up at higher secondary schools for these candidates.

Admit cards

Prof Zai said that admit cards of the candidates appearing in the first phase of the exams would be handed to their respective colleges on April 19.

The leftover regular candidates and those who had failed in the last annual exams could submit exam forms on April 20, he said. However, he made it clear that no form would be accepted beyond the deadline.

Speaking about a monitoring mechanism, he said that the BIEK had set up 50 supervisory teams each comprising two officials to ensure transparency in the examinations. The teams would visit exam centres and report the cases of use of unfair means, he said, adding that each team would be required to visit two exam centres a day.

The chairman explained that it would be mandatory upon team members to be present at the exam centres at nine in the morning so that they along with centre superintendents would sign the packets containing question papers.

Moreover, group leaders who are assi- gned the task of distributing papers at examination centers have been divided into different zones so that armed guards could accompany them from the BIEK office to their centres.

In addition to 50 supervisory teams, a high-powered vigilance team comprising BIEK chairman, director-general (colleges), regional director (colleges), and representatives of secretary education and the board's controlling authority had also been formed, he said.

The vigilance team would be empowered to punish the culprits involved in cheating and unfair means on the spot, he added.

SSC exams

Meanwhile, the vigilance team of the Board of Secondary Education Karachi chairman on Thursday booked 57 candidates for using unfair means in the secondary school certificate (SSC) annual examinations, besides detecting four impersonation cases. Dawn

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Centre changes: BSEK violating law?
Karachi: The practice of re-allotment examination centres was widespread during the ongoing Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations, but seemingly went unchecked by the Board of Secondary Education, Karachi (BSEK).

Sources said that the BSEK, as per the law, is allowed to change a particular examination centre, but it cannot entertain any specific group or individuals with respect to re-allotment of exam centres. "The practice of shifting particular candidates or small groups of people from one examination centre to another, and that too without proper justification, is raising many questions," sources said. Citing a number of irregularities, sources said that candidates considered 'favourites' managed to get their examination centres changed, and did so without providing any compelling reason or logic.

One such instance was reported at Nadir Grammar School, Malir, where a candidate, assigned roll number 426683, managed to get his examination centre changed on medical grounds. The student was supposed to take his exams at Prince Aly Boys Secondary School, Malir City, but eventually appeared at the Jamia Millia Government Pilot Boys Secondary School, Malir City.

As many as eight students of Adeel Academy, Gulshan-e-Hadeed also managed to get their examination centre transferred to Government Boys Secondary School, Liaquatabad No9, Gulshan-e-Hadeed, where special arrangements were made for these candidates, sources said.

In another anomaly, students of Al-Qamar Academy, situated in Sir Syed Colony, Orangi Town, were supposed to appear at the CDGK Government Girls Secondary School in Tauheed Colony, Orangi Town. The students, however, managed to get their examination centre changed to the PNG Secondary School in Iqbal Baloch Colony, Orangi Town, but they eventually appeared for their exams at their own school, Al-Qamar Academy. "This is an open violation of BSEK rules and regulations," sources argued.

Similarly, the Board set Rana Liaquat Ali Khan Girls Secondary School as the examination centre for students of Mashal Girls Secondary School, but the management of the latter managed to get their examination centre shifted to Saint Sachal Sarmast Secondary School.

Meanwhile, irregularities detected last year at a number of schools in Bin Qasim Town, continued unchecked this year as well. Aside from the trend of high-priced 'special cheating rooms,' the malpractice of allotting the same examination centres to students of similar schools during SSC exams was also witnessed. The news

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Sindh varsities to have overseas campuses
Karachi: A decision has been taken in principle to establish overseas campuses of Sindh's institutions of higher learning, including universities.

Taking an initiative, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad has held talks with the UAE government and the federal ministry of education and received a positive response from the Emirates rulers, who have pledged their all possible cooperation in this regard.

A strategy for the implementation of the plan came under discussion at a meeting held in the Governor's House.

Vice-chancellors of the Karachi University, NED University of Science and Technology, Dow University of Health Sciences and Agriculture University, Tandojam, as well as IBA director and heads of other educational institutions attended the meeting.

He issued directives for the establishment of a special cell at the Governor's House and appointment of a special secretary as 'project coordination director'. App

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KU VC condoles Dr Israr's death
Vice Chancellor (VC), University of Karachi (KU), Prof Pirzada Qasim has expressed grief sense on the sad demise of well-known religious scholar, founder of Tanzeem-e-Islami and president of Anjuman-e- Khuddam-ul-Quran, Dr Israr Ahmed Siddiqui. The VC said that he was an honest person and practiced what he preached, along with having all signs of a pious person. "His services to Islam and the Ummah are unforgettable. It is an honour for us that Dr. Israr Ahmed Siddiqui was also an alumnus of our university", the VC pointed out. The news

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Medical student 'commits suicide'
Karachi: A two-day old body of a medical student of Aga Khan University Hospital was found hanging from the ceiling in a male hostel room on Thursday.

Twenty-two-year-old Ishfaq Hussain, son of Ameer Ali was found from his hostel's single bed room no 227 where as per other students he resided alone. The body was found at around 3:20pm by the hostel's management and later they informed the local police about the incident.

"The door of the room was opened when we reached the site at around 4pm while the body of the victim was hanging from the ceiling fan, an Inquiry Officer Zubair said. "The stench of the decomposing body alerted the neighbours and then the police were informed."

Inquiry officer quoting Sheikh said that the deceased's body did not have any mark of torture and died of suffocation.

Ishfaq was a second year student of AKUH, who came from Chitral. His family members were reached and a burial was planned in Chitral for today (Friday).

The officer further said that apparently the deceased committed suicide but nothing could be said about it. "We are in preliminary level of investigation to find out the definite cause behind his death," said the officer. "It might also have been possible that someone had hanged him to death due to some reason."

When the hostel's management was contacted, they said, "We have reassured all the students to come forth for any significant issues being faced by them and counseling services would be provided as required to the students and staff," they said. Daily times

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