Most of O, A level students fail to get admission

Lahore, Sep 20: Merit is being trampled in the name of, you guessed it right, merit. And at the rough end of the stick are perhaps some of the best and the brightest students of this country - those who have achieved distinctions and high grades after superior quality education and going through an aboveboard system of examination based on actual learning than rote prevalent in our parts.

Instead of stepping up to make our own systems to make it compatible with the world, our Inter-Board Committee of Chairmen has come up with a novel idea to reduce the better lot to below par through a system of equivalence that equates straight A's with only 935 marks of our FSc.

Thousands of A level students face disappointment and feel discouraged as they may be unable to get admission in medical colleges and other professional colleges as many FSc students are now getting more than 1,000 marks leaving no room for them. Also the entry test are based on FSc and they have little time to prepare for them.

Private educational institutions that educate O and A level students for different UK examination boards have deplored the situation and urged the IBCC to review the process of equivalence.

John Gildea, Country Exams Manager and based at the British Council Karachi on Friday said "The British Council and UK award bodies are working closely with IBCC on issues relating to the equivalence of international qualifications." He was optimist that things would improve in the near future.

Representative of UK examination board Edexcel in Pakistan Sohail Zafar said they had meetings with IBCC on the issue and hope for positive change. "There is need to rationalise the process of giving equivalence. In the current scenario where the level of attainment has risen there is need to review the process. We should have a dialogue on the issue and rationalise the process so that there is no heart burning," Zafar was of the view.

Principal LACAS Mrs Ayesha Zaigham condemned the IBCC for cutting the marks of A and O level students. "In all schools only the best students are given the option to study for O and A level exams. Others are asked to appear in Matric exam. They are the cream of the society - the best and the most beautiful minds brimming with ideas. It is great injustice when they fail to get admission in local higher education institutions. They become disappointed and go abroad where they easily get admission. This leads to brain drain in country as most of them never come back as they are flooded with opportunities there," she explained. "Those who go for engineering or medical profession love it and want to excel. When these are discouraged due to our highly flawed system you are destroying their creativity. They work extremely hard to get A's but when they give equivalence cut marks which is not justified.

"The equivalence system is flawed and should be done away with. I am so keen that there should be one system of education. But the government is bent upon creating disparity. Instead of raising their own standards they are taking vendetta on O and A level students. There is no accountability in the country. There is nobody you can turn to. For example if the IBCC does take action in future who is responsible for destroying the careers of thousands of affected students. IBCC is destroying the lives of thousands of brilliant students," Zaigham maintained.

Yasir Butt of the British International School System, Karachi, flayed the IBCC for creating the deplorable situation. "Parents are confused and come to us for advice. There is no justice in the education system. The O and A level students compete with other countries and bring accolades to the country by topping in exams. But when they go for higher education in Pakistan they are told that they qualifications are up to the standard of local boards. Their marks are deducted and doubts are created in their minds about their academic credentials. When they can get admission in top educational institutions of the world with the same credentials why can't they get admissions here? They devalue education that is accepted the world over," Butt said.

Principal of Lahore Grammar School Mrs Amber Tariq said that the process of giving equivalence to foreign qualification as well as that of holding of entry tests for admission to medical and other professional colleges was unfair. "First of all there should be acceptance of foreign education system. If you are cutting down their marks that means you are not accepting it. The marks conversion formula is not fair. This is resulting in the fact that Cambridge students are unable to get admission in medical colleges. The entry test are based on FSc, which is also not fair. They are discouraging the A level students when they are not accepting their marks. It is not only the medical colleges the Kinnaird College too has started to discourage A level students and is catering more to those that have passed local board exams," she said.

Principal American National School Attiya Shah while deploring the IBCC action of restricting the marks of O and A level students it was high time Pakistan started thinking on evolving its own high school standards. "In the first place we should not be relying on other countries for providing quality education. We are sending huge amount of money to UK. That can stay here in Pakistan if we improve our own system. "The Matriculation and FSc should be made more conceptual like the UK boards education. There is need to revamp our own examination system. It is high time we take it out of the mode of basing it on memorisation skills.

"Discouraging the A level students is like destroying our own youth. This should end. Cutting down their marks will not improve the local system," she was of the view. She said it was high time the government seriously thought about the issue as it was affecting thousands of students.

Secretary IBCC Muhammad Ramazan Achakzai said only the IBCC Equivalence Committee could change the rules. "It is not on the IBCC agenda yet. But if there are complaints the Equivalence Committee meets from time to time and could take up the issue. In future it may happen," he said.

While the IBCC has yet to take up the issue and the private educational institutions have yet to evolve a strategy to solve the problem the O and A level students continue to suffer. Many will fail to get admission in medical and other professional colleges. Dr Farhat Yaqub's son studied at Aitchison College. "My son's portrait is displayed in the Corridor of Fame at the college. He won the academic award in grade 10 and 11. He got 9A's in O level and 4 A's in A level. The IBCC gave him equivalence of 925 marks. He appeared in the entry test and secured 884 marks out of 1100. He will not be able to get admission in any medical college in the city. Last year only one A level student could get admission in King Edward Medical University. "The entry test for admission to medical and other professional colleges is from FSc course. O and A level students are at disadvantage. It should be both from O and A level as well as FSc syllabus.

"The parents are disturbed by IBCC policies and its rigid attitude towards Cambridge students. It should do justice. For example the FSc topper from FC College last year got 1060 marks out of 1100 whereas the topper of Cambridge University got only 935 marks.

"We demand separate merit list for A level students or start of quota system for them. We appeal to the government to look into the matter immediately," Dr Yaqub said.

Why equivalence?
Lahore: When I entered the Crescent College as an A-level student, our Physics teacher revealed the most bitter truth of our academic life in the first orientation class; equivalence. There are three engineering institutions in Pakistan regarded to be tops at present, namely NUST, GIKI and UET Lahore. Of these institutions, NUST and UET, ask for submission of equivalence certificate by IBCC before admissions. And although the pre-requisite for entering NUST is 60% marks in FSc, admission in UET is tougher for A-level students like myself whose score is less than a mere 85%, around 935/1100 (and only for students who achieve straight A grades).

With the rumors that government intends to do away with the Entry Test for engineering universities and colleges, I for one am concerned about the future of A-level students. With the exception of GIKI and LUMS 5SF, which do not demand an equivalence certificate, it would be virtually impossible for an A-level student to get admission in universities such as UET Lahore. The situation is even worse on the medical side. Only Agha Khan Medical University does not demand equivalence certificate (as far as I know). To get admission in KE MU is virtually impossible for an A-level candidate.

By Suhaib Zafar (The Nation)

Your Comments

"is there any body in the country, in HEC, IBCC, CENTRAL GOVT, PUNJAB GOVT,who can take the notice of great injustice to the Alevel students regarding marks equvalence and MCAT test which is only FSc based."
Name: Mohammads zahid
City, Country: Lahore, pakistan

"Assalam-u-Alaikum. It is great to see so many people speak out the innermost thoughts in my heart. I so want someone to knock some sense into IBCC and make it realize how important it is to accommodate O and A level students within our country, who are happily going abroad, including many of my friends getting straight As, and studying in top universities in UK. However, whats much more important is to establish a system identical to A and O levels within our country that costs as much as Matric and FSc exams. MashaAllah, there are such brilliant minds present here that it will only require determination to create such an education system. The A level fees have risen so sharply during a single year, from Rs. 8884 in Oct/Nov 2007 to Rs. 13,146 in Oct/Nov 2008. It will be in our best interest if we make a similar system in our own country or change the Matric and FSc system. The latter I find playing a major hand in abusing the brilliant and creative minds of Pakistani students by educating them in such an unnatural method of using pure memorization skills and not a dram of concept. If CIE does not give the actual marks and instead gives a percentage based on the performance of able candidates and not on the total marks, then CIE also does not make a similar paper every year. O and A level papers have 100% new and original questions in every session, (with the exception of maybe a few MCQs sometimes, worth hardly 3-4 marks), most of them probing into the wondrous intellectual capacity of the purely concept based minds of the well trained A/O level candidates. In Matric and FSc papers the questions mostly only have their values changed a little every year, otherwise they are quite identical. Any student topping in FSc proves how talented he/she is in memorizing facts and figures. This is the major difference between A/O level and Matric/FSc students. Any well earning person would want his children to make use of their brain power and not abuse it. I hope Allah will help our country cope with these troubles in our education system in a just way and in other affairs as well."
Name: Ahmad Imran
City, Country: Lahore, pakistan

"Well, it sure is unfair but then what else did you expect? Our policies, be they educational or political, are formed by people,up there, and when I say up there, it does not mean heavens,!!! These high and mighty people are not concerned with how they are destroying Pakistan by kicking out the bright youth. They will regret it soon."
Name: Saima
City, Country: Dubai

"who says Fsc students do not have any conceptual learning . Did Abbdus Salam , A Q Khan (And many Other Pakistanis) Studied O, A Levels ? I do agree the GDP allocated for Education of this country should be more ,but this does not entitle you people to start a propaganda campaign for Intellegent students of this country or to make assumptions about someones Knowledge. It is very easy to say bad words for your country, The system etc . You People gotta problem in this country ,go ahead ,talk for yourselves,your problems,but for god,s sake not at the cost of manipulating and criticising Local Education ,which is there for more than 80 percent papulation of this country and where Per capita income is so low that people dont send their children to school for financial reasons. How Many British schools contribute towards educating people for Free ? none ,caz they are not here to Educate this countrys poor people , they are here to Educate only the ones who are able to pay. I understand the material nature of your thought and not having care for the intellegent and poor students.Atleast all of you must not be so selfish, to gain your objectives at the cost of hurting and making assumptions on someones knowledge. I bet, given the right Environment and even in this system with limited fascilities students outshine their so called "cream of Society"counterpats. Local Education System cost is Low and is the one and only way for lower strata to go with education . Do you want people of this country to remain out of engineering and medical colleges, just because you got lucky, paying expanses for foreign qualifications. Talking about equivalence, The Elite Class Problem ( Only 10 percent in this Country )and which also happen to be pretending to be a victim of injustice by IBCC. I give You People an advice If IBCC said it would give you more marks by critisizing Local education system ,or Considering your FSc counterparts inferior and making assumptions that every other person on this earth has no good learning (caz he has not gone to a british or american school )you are absolutly wrong ,and mend your language when you talk of your country or your people,if it was taught to you in A ,O levels."
Name: Laila
City, Country: Islamabad, pakistan

"I had 9 As and a regional distinction in Biology in Olevels and 3 As in A level.My grades were equated to 935 and i got 844 in the MCAT.I qualified for addmission Alhamdulilah,But the merit position i assume is deplorable.It doesnot even guarantee me a seat in RahimYar Khan.Thanks to IBCC.They can atleast equate a 95% plus score in O/A levels to a 87?935 is way too low=/.Only 2 ppl from my school,besides myself got through PMCs this year and there are many straight A-ers who got rejected.Uniformity in Fsc scores is imperative to allow equal opportunities to everyone."
Name: Sara
City, Country: Islamabad, pakistan

"Well this is completley and unfair policy by the govt. I am a O Level student due to give my examinations in June 2010. I am uncertain on the fact whether that ill be able to get admission in a fsc insdtitue if this policy is continued by the govt. First of all we give loads of money to UK for using their education system and then bright students who acheive distinctions and can easily get an admision in a foreeign university fail to get a addmission in our own country. I plea to the govt. to please change this policy or they should make a new policy for O Level students."
Name: Junaid Aftab
City, Country: Lahore, pakistan

"The so called educationist sitting at top level, making such policies based on injustice specially for A level students are to be blamed . I failed to understand why ......"
Name: Wiqar
City, Country: Wah Cantt, pakistan

"I am writing this comment in response to "Ms Lailas" comment. I assume that she is an FSc student and that is why she bounced back by writing a long response to "attacks", as seen by her, from A-Level students. Well, the Pakistani education and especially, examination system, does need improvement. I, or other A-Level students, as far as I know, dont consider FSc students inferior to A-Level students but I assume the FSc students, or rather IBCC, does! Well, if you go into the FAQs section of, youll see a comparison, a very well done, indeed! BISE Lahore authorities do accept, that A-Level encompasses many books, while FSc is based only on one book. (And in the Bibliography section, the authors of FSc book recommend A-Level books!) So why dont they change this? It is clear that BISE Lahore does seemingly accept that the Pakistani Intermediate or even SSC, do need improvement! I think she has not read Ahmad Imrans response. It is indeed a very positive comment. Of course, we cannot make assumptions about somebodys knowledge but I have met many Matric and FSc students, but unfortunately they(an overwhelming majority) are mere learners. This is more prevalent in students who get good marks in FSc or SSC, but indeed they dont possess the real concepts behind what they have studied. She also said that the IBCC problem cannot be solved by criticism of Local Boards. Whos criticising? We are telling you the facts! This is positive criticism and even FSc students and teachers are critics of Local Boards. As regards to AbdusSalam, he was a great scientist but unfortunately he did his research in the UK at Cambridge University. Why not at UET Lahore? Does Ms Laila have any answers to that? AbdusSalam was a born scientist. These kind of people are not "groomed" but they can be polished. But as we all know, Pakistan has many brilliant minds but our system cant train those minds for research! Also, Ms Laila claims that the IBCC issue is an elite class problem. Well, this is indeed not true. I myself studied at Crescent College in Lahore, which offers the cheapest A-Level courses in town. I am an upper middle class child, I do accept. But Crescent is a Pakistani school. Arent A-Level students Pakistanis? Dont they have any rights? Whos asking the "80 percent population" to send their children to American schools? Or whos asking those pupils to do O/A Levels? Now, I am going to study my engineering in Pakistan. But many students go abroad! This is because they can afford! So are they abusing Pakistan? Indeed, UK and US universities are much much better than Pakistani universities! But even A-Level students, like myself cant afford the expenses. Whos asking us to go? And as the article suggests, the better students in schools do O/A Levels. Thus indeed they are the cream of the society. And if Ms Laila thinks that FSc students are better than A-Level students, I disagree with her. Well, she can see for herself. Throw any conceptual question, which is novel in its style, and the overwhelming majority of FScs will be dumbstruck! And only through learning can a student acheive good marks in FSc or SSC. But why punish A-Level students? Just because they hold foreign qualifications! And many parents who have enough money in their pocket, get their children to do O/A Level because the Pakistani system is unjust in some ways. You can search for this on the intenet! This is not abuse, its a fact!"
Name: Suhaib
City, Country: Lahore, pakistan

"its indeed very sad to read this,i myself did my intermediate from Karachi board and i do not feel ashamed to tell u guys that the syllabus which is taught in local boards is purely based on memorization skills,there r no concepts in it,the questions which comes in exams r just being repeated time and time again;the students just memorize those important questions(just like speaking parrots) and get good marks,there r may b some exceptions but they can b counted in numbers,only 20% out of this 80% poor class continue their education after intermediate,the rest either work or just do nothing whereas these a-level students try their best to get the best,they achieve the best results and notch top positions but unfortunately they do not get what they deserves.Moreover,v r destroying our own youth,the o/a levelers r our future,the concerned authorities should bring justice to them.Moreover, v r losing precious foreign exchange reserves and respect.May ALLAH ALMIGHTY help them."
Name: Daniel
City, Country: Karachi, pakistan

"i agree with daniel,fsc is really based on memorization. there are no concepts in our local text regretful... i am now currently studying in uol(doing elec engg,1st semester) and i would like to share with u guyz that uol is not all practical based uni, jus note the lectures and thats all... pak institutes are relli.... we are havin poor education here and mr junaid they arent gonna listen to ur plea, this is our pak."
Name: Muneeb
City, Country: lahore, pakistan

"well AOA and hello.IM really sad with this decision and Im really confused what to do....i have started my O LEVELS and im good at it and i dream Of getting admissions in KE but by this im stuck in half.As i live in KSA it doesnt mean that im a saudi national! im a Pakistani after all.i have to come back and study in Pakistan and being frank my parents are not that rich or own an oil well or something like that. i know this not only my problem but plea of many."
City, Country: Riyadh,Saudi Arabia

"i have the same problem , my olevel exams are near and i am totally not sure to do either fsc or alevel. i also live in ksa and dream of lahore ke university.can anyone please tell me what is the better option.i dont want to go to abroad.please help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!."
Name: salman
City, Country: riyadh

"Pakistani board are spoiling o and a level children,this shows how deficient our country is in brain. all students who enter in o a exams are extremly brilliant (mostly) and are a source of benefit for the progress of this country. Equivalence means loosing these childrens in errand of their acceptation to the board which belong to another country.Pakistan is really in dumps. Why are o a level students ruin ? what have they done to the country ? They are not terrorist , please help us i am doing o levels this year in 2009 i am going to have my exams ,i decided to opt fsc due to the following unfair policies .But now i am worried that whether they"ll take me or not. "
Name: Rabia
City, Country: Lahore, Pakistan

"Its really very important for us to do something for the students of O and A-Level.I am also the studet of O-level and want equal right."
Name: Maha
City, Country: Lahore, Pakistan

"hello people....I have done my O, levels and now im confused whether to do Alevel or Fsc. I really want to do Alevels but I guess after i face the equivalency probably I wudnt be able to get in any medical college in Pakistan. need some gud guidance but dunno who to turn to.."
Name: Talha
City, Country: karachi,Pakistan

"10th August 2009. The hapiest day of my life .I got 8 As in my O levels result .I did my O levels from B.S.S Guj. I was dreaming about my shining future when while searching for admission process in various scools of lahore i came across very disappointing information.Now should i do FSC or to go abroad ,study there and settle there?This is not a dificult decision to make !Indeed there is no option left but to go abroad .I dont think it will be convinient foe me to switch from O levels to FSC ."
Name: Bilal A shraf
City, Country: Gujranwala,Pakistan

Name: Khuram Shahzad
City, Country: LALAMUSA,Pakistan

"I am currently in 7th grade and i am very confused of wheather i should choose o level or matric.Can any one help me that what should i choose?"

"I have just finished my O Levels with good grades. Now i am in doubt whether to go for Inter or for A Levels. I read your article, and its true how we a level students suffer from the equivalence certificate. Now i plan to go abroad. but i need names of universities for medical. Can you suggest some and also give me some guiding tips to proceed. I wish to do a levels and want to go on to study abroad. If there is any good college which offers greater merit for us. Pleas reply soon. Thanks"
Name: Bilal
City, Country: karachi,pakistan

"iam doing materculation and giving o levels 3 career related subjects private.Physics, chemistry and biology.As i was known tht many percentages are deducted due to o level in medical gorment universties so i finally take this decision to fullfill my wish. and iam happy giving o level & matric exams both.Am giving olevel for gust to hav knowlege n to pass my intry test easily bcz i really find more convinency in it.After 10th i will do 1st year inter.Because A level is totally useless for medical in pakisan."
Name: samia
City, Country: hyderbad,pakistan

"Can any body tell me what will be my equivalence percentage.I got one B and one C in AS level and one C, one D and one E in A level."
Name: Aijaz
City, Country: Karachi

"Hello and Aoa..!! I am a 8th grade student.. My mid-terms are on my head.. I study in Beaconhouse.. I just wanted to ask something.. Next year is the year to decide.. Matric or Olevels..??? As you guys are the ones, which I have to follow, in future.. what should I choose..?? Plzz tell and explain!!"
Name: Noffel Khan
City, Country: Islamabad, Pakistan

"i am in 8th grade student of march i hav 2 decide whether i shud do o levels or matric.i am really good at studies get 97% marks.pls advice.i want to bcom a doctor. i wish to do o levels coz its knowledgable..... someone HELP ME!!!"
Name: r ahmad
City, Country:sheikhupura

"My son is studing in 8th camb , this is the year to decide to chose O lev or Matriculation , he is very much iteresting TO do Engenring or ACCA , Please give me advise"
Name: ayaz
City, Country:Lahore

"there should be no concept of entry test in medicle session"
Name: irum
City, Country:multan

"hello i am student who has passed grade 8 now i have to decide whether to go fr o levels or matric i wnt to do engineering in future.plz guide me"
Name: ghazanfar ali
City, Country: shiekhupura pakistan

"Hello, hi am a student who has just passed 8th grade,now iam finalsing that i should do matric or "O"levels.Is there PRE engineering in Fsc."
Name: Abdullah sh

"ASLAM ALAIKUM my name is WALEED ALI MIAN, I live in lahore and study in 9th O level. As being a student of Olevel i request to the IBCC Equivalence Committee not to discourage the O and A level students by cutting their marks in checking their papers it should be restrictly prohibited, this is making the marvelous students brilliant brain getting down,as compared to metric with O level, matric is being given much more importance than O level which should not be given their should be fair with O and A level students. I want that in future all this matter should be good. My best wishes are with all O and A level students."
Name: waleed ali mian
City, Country: lahore,pakistan

City, Country: LAHORE

"it is unfair.The students of olevels and Alevels should be treated with justice.In this way government is destroying the future of these students."
Name: javerya
City, Country:Karachi,Pakistan

"hey buddies! going through the article and commentary, i similarly feel sorry for O/A level students including myself being an O level candidate. its not our mistake that we are lucky to be able to pay for our education rather our minds are to be blamed. being Pakistani children we have rights to get what we deserve. what an heart breaking day would that be when i ll receive my equivalence certificate i dont know! but i will do my best to get what i deserve. if any req to IBCC is gonna work then i beg for my rights as an student! i would die a disgusting death if my pops regret for making me a Cambridge student! additionally, i dont claim to be better then matric students but i am surely not less than them!"
Name: Mahwash mureedzai
City, Country: Quetta,Pakistan

"I have cleared my matric exam.Now i want to do ICS.My Fathers income is very low.Please help me anyone.PLzzzzzzzzzzzzz if any body help me do fast.Plzzzz"
Name: Adeel Hashmi
City, Country: Wan Bhachran,Mianwali,Pakistan

"I truly appreciate the uprising for Alevels students but in order to bring to your notice that this unfair practice is going on even for Olevels students. Equivalence has become a major problem that Olevels students are facing in Pakistan. Due to this they are unable to get admission in top colleges of Pakistan despite a lot of hard work and free of cheating examination. I request the Chairman Punjab text book board to please adopt fair practices and O and Alevels students get education in Pakistan. Please calculate the worth of As and A*s and then finalise the number of marks. If not adopted Pakistan will loose eligible and competent students who came up by fair means. I hope that my concerns are noticed. On behalf of Olevels students willing to study further in Pakistan."
Name: asna mustafa
City, Country: lahore,Pakistan

"Hello, i am doing my 9th olevel in quetta. I went through the same problem of equilancy and have decided to go for fsc after o level. May be its right or wrong but i have heraed of a case put up against the ibcc committeee to stop the equilancy law, may Allah help us win the case against the unjust ibcc. INSHALLAH!!"
Name: Aaila
City, Country: Quetta, Pakistan



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