Controversy surrounding SSC exams deepens as Islamiat paper leaked
Karachi, March 29: The ongoing controversy surrounding the Secondary School Certificate examinations took a nasty turn on Saturday when angry students attacked the office of the Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK) after the Islamiat paper was postponed. The decision came after the board received information that the paper was leaked just hours before the exam.
Controller of Examination BSEK Kalim Asghar Kirmani postponed the Islamiat and Ethics paper of the SSC exams, Science Group, hours before the paper was supposed to start. Kirmani said that the postponed paper will now be held on April 16.
The first Matric paper was scheduled for March, 27 (Saturday), but a few hours before the examination, the BSEK received information that the Islamiat paper had been leaked and was being circulated through SMS. On this, the BSEK decided to postpone the paper which was due in the second shift.
The BSEK had received information regarding the availability of the paper at around 12:30pm but it did not inform the teachers and examination centre superintends, who were present at the board office to collect the papers, till 1:20pm.
However, after a brief meeting between Chairman BSEK Anzar Hussain Zaidi, Secretary, Hoor Bi Mazhar and Kirmani, the board announced the postponement of the paper at 1:20pm.
Meanwhile, angry youngsters and students gathered outside the BSEK building between 1:45 and 2pm and chanted slogans against the management, slating the poor performance of the board. A group of the students present at the BSEK compound turned violent and vented their frustration by damaging the property on the site.
The rampaging students smashed the tube lights, ceiling fans, windows and furniture of the Accounts Section. During this, Tariq, a junior clerk of the Accounts Section, received a head injury.
Meanwhile, a police van deployed at a petrol pump, situated next to the board office, left the place as soon as the students started pelting stones at the BSEK building and passers-by. The students also forced nearby shops as well as the pump to shutdown their businesses.
Later, the protesters left the BSEK premises and staged a sit-in at the main gate. They started pelting stones at the building again and ended up injuring several students who were standing outside the building.
Despite several calls to the local police and Rangers, the law enforcers arrived at around 2:30pm at the Board Office. Police arrested 18 youngsters for attacking and damaging public property. However, Sindh governor Dr Ishratul Ebad directed the police to release them.
Apart from protesting at the Board Office, the students took to the streets in various areas after receiving information regarding the postponement of the paper. Gulshan-e-Iqbal including NIPA and Hasan Square, as well as MA Jinnah Road, Karimabad, Jahangirabad, Jahangir Road, Korangi Roads were blocked by the protestors, which led to massive traffic jams.
It is worth noting that the BSEK had already cancelled the first two papers of Class IX and X each (Science and General Group) scheduled on March 24 and 25 after the Sindh governor intervened in the matter when thousands of students protested against the Board for not issuing their admit cards.
Regular and private candidates could not take advantage of the deadline given by the BSEK and also failed to submit their examination forms during March 16 to 18, after special permission was given by the Board on Dr Ebad's directives. During this extension, at least 4, 652 candidates submitted their examination forms along with the late fees. However, hundreds of private and regular students staged a sit-in on M.A. Jinnah Road on the night between 22 and 23 March to protest against the non-issuance of their admit cards.
To prevent any untoward situation, the governor, who is also the controlling authority, had postponed the annual examinations for two days and directed the Board Office to allow the regular candidates to submit the examination forms. As many as 2, 000 students took advantage of the relaxation and collected their admit cards from the BSEK to appear in the exams. Many private candidates enrolled themselves as regular students of public and private education sector to participate in the annual exams. Even then, things went out of control when law-enforcers, including Rangers and police baton-charged hundreds of students and their parents who gathered outside the BSEK office to collect their admit cards.
On Saturday, the students' lashed out at the Board Office and termed the postponement an injustice. The parents said that the Board Office should take serious action against the people involved in corruption and conduct papers without further interruption. They added that the mistake occurred at the Board's end but it is the students who are suffering and paying for no fault of their own. Police disperse a crowd of protesting students on the University Road. A sms showing the leaked paper.Your Comments
The exam mess
Karachi: Almost daily reports over the past week of corruption and mismanagement marring the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations in Karachi show how deep we have sunk into mire. Violence broke out on Saturday, when a group of students who had gathered outside the Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK) to protest the postponement of the Islamiat paper after the board learnt that the paper had been leaked, stormed the board office. Angry students also protested in other parts of the city. About 150,000 candidates and their parents were confused and panicked, wondering whether the paper had been cancelled at all centres and when it would be held again. The BSEK was quick to accuse the 'mafia' and called for an inquiry. A day earlier, on Friday, SSC General Group candidates had complained of receiving the question paper late and the authorities blamed it on traffic jams! Earlier in the week, the board had cancelled the first two papers of classes IX and X on the directives of the Sindh governor after thousands of students protested at not getting admit cards.
Who is responsible for this mess? Students blame schools, which in turn blame the BSEK; and the board suspects involvement of the mafia. The provincial education minister says his hands are tied and he is helpless; that 'political compulsions' not only stymie improvement in the affairs of the education department but also impede efforts to eliminate the use of unfair means during examinations. In a meeting on Saturday, with the governor, who is the controlling authority, three top BSEK officials admitted failure to properly manage the examinations. But the governor ruled out any action against them and contented himself with ordering an inquiry into the matter. Stringent action is needed urgently if we want our children to get a proper education. Heads must roll as a warning to any officials involved in the business of selling the future of our children.
BSEK forms team to counter cheating
Karachi: The Controller of Examinations, Board of Secondary Education, Karachi(BSEK), Kalim Asghar Kirmani, has said that the Chairman's Special Vigilance Committee, consisting of the officers of the BSEK, headed by Abdul Rehman, Director, Education and Research, has been formed to address the cheating issues during the ongoing Secondary School Certificate (SSC) at the examination centres.
According to a press release issued on Sunday, the committee will pay immediate visits to the examination centres on receipt of information regarding use of unfair means or involvement in malpractices by the examinees during the conduct of SSC annual examination, 2010. The newsYour Comments
BSEK's disregard of conventions caused exam debacle
Karachi: The Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK) went against the established practice of replacing a leaked paper with an alternative paper and postponed the Class X paper of Islamiat at the eleventh hour on Saturday after it had been leaked, triggering a widespread violent protest by candidates across the city, it emerged on Sunday.
It became quite clear that the BSEK had not adopted the standard procedure when its controller of examinations Kalim Asghar Kirmani in a press release described the practice of replacing a leaked paper with an alternative one as a "misunderstanding".
"An examination paper which is prepared by three different senior teachers is turned into 'one paper' after its moderation and it takes more or less 10 hours to print the same. And once the paper is printed, packets containing papers for each examination centres are prepared which are dispatched to the examination centres through group leaders," he said.
However, background interviews with a number of educationists who had either remained associated with some examining bodies or had conducted examinations at different educational boards and universities said that it was beyond their comprehension that why the BSEK officials chose to postpone Saturday's paper instead of replacing the leaked paper with an alternative paper on the pattern of other examining bodies in the country.
Lashing out at the BSEK officials for the postponement of the paper, the educational experts Dawn spoke with said that it was an established practice that an examining body usually got set at least three to five sets of papers with the help of moderators and kept all these papers ready.
"All of these alternative papers are printed and packed so that if the examining authorities come to know about leaking of a paper, they could replace the same with the alternative papers generally marked as A, B, C, D and E papers and are kept locked in the secrecy branch of a board or university," one of them said.
Commenting on the Saturday's incident in which the candidates reacted angrily, they said that since the act of postponing the examination amounted to playing with the nerves of the candidates and their parents, the BSEK officials should ensure that such an incident should not occur again and that could only by done by following the standardised procedures being followed by other examining bodies in the country.
Referring to the procedures practiced in other educational boards and universities, including the Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK), the education experts said that these measures included a thorough checking of all the personnel working in their secrecy branch of examinations, keeping at least three sets of each paper ready and no one should be allowed to leave the branch at least until an hour after the commencement of the examination, whether he is a head examiner, moderator or a junior clerk or a peon.
Mentioning that some senior officials of the BSEK had been replaced in the wake of a high-level inquiry which the Sindh governor had ordered following a rampant use of unfair means and irregularities which had been reported in the SSC annual examinations-2009, they said that such measures proved cosmetic measures only as incompetent officials remained in their places.Moreover, they also alleged that affairs of the BSEK were being mismanaged because the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Act, 1973, was not being followed in the letter and spirit.
In this regard, they pointed out the former chairman was a retired army official while the incumbent chairman is a retired civil servant, though the Act clearly states that the chairman of educational boards must have an educational background.
Besides, they add that the incumbent controller of examinations of the BSEK was the head of the BSEK enrolment section.
In addition to this, a former additional secretary of finance at the Governor's House, upon his retirement, has recently been appointed as the director educational research in the BSEK, though five years of research experience is mandatory for the post, they add.
Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan has directed that high-powered teams, including ministers, should carry out surprise visits from Monday of the examinations centres of the ongoing 9th and 10th class annual examinations of the Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK).
This was pointed out in an official statement issued here on Sunday.
The governor, who is also the controlling authority of the examinations boards in the province, emphasised that the examinations system should be made transparent and credible.
He said that the machinations of a certain mafia in this connection were being frustrated.
The 'mafia' was trying to sabotage the steps that had been taken for improving the examinations system and that this had become obvious from the recent incidents, he said.
The governor also assured the higher officials of the board of his assistance for its action against this mafia.
He said that criminal cases would be initiated against those found involved in unlawful activities.
Dr Ibad said that for better coordination and dispatch of the question papers it was being considered that the number of examination centres be reduced from 450 to 50.
Some other measures in this connection were also under consideration and that latest and computerised approach would be adopted, the governor added. Dawn
Karachi: Without education one's survival is very hard. But the education system in Pakistan is literally weakening day by day, apparently our Government doesn't even bother to improve such standards or try to get rid of such loopholes.
In spite of this they keep on blaming us the "youth" that we are not being serious with our lives. How exactly do they expect us to be serious and devoted when they being the leaders could not even try to fix such small problems related to education. On the very day of Board examination they called off the paper, since 1000 or so students could not be issued admit cards. What so ever was the reason behind this mismanagement, it cannot undo the mistakes that have been happening or the ones which are going on or even the ones which will continue to be the same.
This is my humble request on behalf of the entire Nation and especially youth, to stop blaming us for these mishaps and start eradicating such factors which lead to such problems, due to which young people start losing their patriotism and stop being serious with anything around them and worst of this all is that they are misled by all of this injustice. Sabah Saeed (F.P Report)