BISE Lahore online examination system failure

BISE computerisation a dream turns nightmare
Lahore, Sep 19: Technology may be one of the surest routes to advancement but embracing it without doing homework makes it a burden. It is such a scenario which has made computerisation of many a manual system in Pakistan a genie out of bottle, unlike other countries which have achieved through it a fair degree of efficiency, accuracy and transparency in results.

The Lahore Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education's flirtation with the online examination system has proved one big failure. The computerisation of results in all eight education boards in Punjab, introduced by former Punjab higher education secretary Ahad Cheema and being spearheaded by consultant Dr Majid Naeem for well over a year, has become neither efficient nor accurate. The objective of transparency too remains to be seen. Every time the boards declare results they end up seeing on their campuses long queues of candidates anxious about their late results or those who want to get their result-sheets corrected.

This year's FA/FSc results, declared on Sept 10 (third successive computerised results), have proved not much different from previous experiences. The Lahore board declared more than 25,000 candidates' results late (RL), triggering an unusual rush of students at its offices for the last nine days. Hundreds of candidates are visiting board offices for rectification of mistakes on the computer-generated result cards.

There are instances in which the candidates have been given 52 and 53 marks out of 50 in Pakistan Studies paper, or 102 marks out of 100 in other papers, girls' pictures appearing on boys' result cards, shuffling of figures like computer posting 29 marks instead of well-earned 92 marks.

There are also cases of declaring results without posting all papers' marks. The most glaring example is the case of Sara Abbas of Mansoora Girls College, who was finally declared first position holder in humanities group among girls a day after the declaration of results. She suffered agony for board's failure to post all papers' marks. Originally, she was given only 29 marks in Education paper and her result was kept late.

However, when the result was cleared on inquiry, she was found having obtained 93 marks in the paper and overall 955 marks that marked her way to the coveted top position in humanities.

The whole sequence of positions in this group was changed and the first and second position holders' jubilation tainted, while third position holder Neelam Shah's delight dampened as she was dropped out of the list of position holders.

At a special medal-awarding ceremony, she declared the computerised system the culprit responsible for delaying her hard-earned position.

Unable to cope with the student rush, the unfriendly staff at the board offices has failed to detect errors and make corrections.

Consultant Dr Majid Naeem most of the time is not available; either he remains busy somewhere or avoids exposure to public wrath.

In an incident of such nature angry students, accompanied by their parents, stormed board's computer offices as well as board secretary's office. The police stepped in to rescue the board officials who admitted that the students were forced to take the extreme measure in the absence of any relief in sight.

"We are helpless as we are supposed to find bar-coded answer scripts that have been intermingled while working in hurry and checking huge number of scripts," a board official said.

"We are able to clear only 100 to 200 results in a day, while the candidates in queue are still in thousands," another official said.

The situation at the Lahore board is bound to worsen as it has received some 4,000 applications for re-checking of answer scripts and the number will further rise till Sept 26 - the last date for applying. The candidates have also paid Rs700 for re-checking of each answer script and the board officials have yet to start work on this front.

The students and their parents have called into question the credibility of results. "If there are so many mistakes in results, which are being updated, how many students will be suffering with low marks unknowingly," they said.

It is alleged that the board itself is a victim of apathy of the higher-ups like the higher education secretary and the chief minister. Two experienced officials Controller of Examinations Prof Manzur-ul-Hassan Niazi and chairman Prof Dr Akram Kashmiri - have been relieved on the completion of their tenures (the latter in the middle of the crisis on Sept 16).

Board Secretary Mushtaq Tahir, whose tenure also expired on July 31 and kept dragging owing to political affiliations, has been given the additional charge of the chairman. Newly-appointed CoE Ijaz Husain Naqvi will obviously take time to be in charge of the affairs.

Confronting the leadership crisis and pending job of clearing RLs and re-checking of scripts, the Lahore board is also supposed to take on another huge task of holding matriculation supplementary examination from Oct 8 and intermediate supplementary examination from Nov 12.

The board doesn't afford even a single free day before preparing for these assignments as it has already lost many days.

The affected students (and their guardians) have demanded that the higher-ups appoint a team of experienced and credible people to streamline the board affairs. Dawn

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Business schools asked to get NBEAC accreditation
Islamabad: Appreciating the initiatives taken by the National Business Education Accreditation Council (NBEAC) for improvement of the quality of business education in Pakistan, HEC Chairperson Dr Javaid R. Laghari has emphasised the need to further enhance the efforts and advised business schools to immediately seek accreditation through NBEAC.

During the meeting with NBEAC Chairman Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad, Dr Laghari identified the need to synchronise the roadmaps of various degree programmes from undergraduate to doctoral level for smooth transition of the students. He also highlighted the need for faculty development for increasing the quality of classroom instruction and industrial linkages.

It was agreed during the meeting that the MBA degree should be considered in principle as a two-year degree and minimum requirement for admission should be 16-year qualification. Those entering into the MBA programme with prior education in business administration would be provided with waiver of upto 15 credit hours while those joining from non-business undergraduate degrees would undergo two-year studies including summer sessions if necessary. Similarly, students with 14-year degrees should be offered admission into other degree programmes to facilitate them converting into 16-year bachelor degree.

HEC ED Dr Sohail Naqvi emphasised revamping of curriculum and its alignment with cutting-edge developments at global level and to meet the demands of corporate sector in Pakistan. It was agreed that communication and leadership skills along with managerial expertise should be made part of curriculum for enhancing personal effectiveness and development of managerial expertise.

The chairman NBEAC apprised the HEC leadership about steps taken to develop a formidable team of evaluators at national level to take care of the workload of peer evaluation. He also informed that a premium training programme of top tier trainers will be held in October in collaboration with the European Foundation for Management Development at Brussels.

HEC Chairperson approved the idea of setting up National Resource Centre for Case Studies to promote practical training and provide analytical training on issues related to the world of business and industry.

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First phase of Wildlife Park at QAU launched
Islamabad: Former federal minister for textile Rana Farooq Saeed Khan launched the first phase of the Wildlife Park, an extended project of Botanic Garden (BG), Quaid-i-Azam University, by releasing four pairs of geese into a small artificial lake here on Thursday afternoon.

Others participating in the ceremony included Dr Abdul Hameed, Dean Biological Sciences and head of the Technical Committee, BG, Rana Shafiq-ur-Rehnman, President of Green Circle Organisation helping QAU in setting up the Botanic Garden and its extension, S Shahid Raza, CEO of Leonz, who donated these birds, S Israr Ali, Vice-Principal of Islamabad College for Boys.

The geese, which included an Australian pair also, were released near Housing Colony of the New Campus, QAU, near Shahdara Road, in a pond created as part of water harvesting arrangement. The pond will not only house marine birds and animals but would also serve as back-up reservoir of water during dry seasons.

Talking to this scribe, Rana Farooq Saeed hoped that Botanic Garden and its extension project will attract residents of the twin-cities and tourists visiting Murree Hills and Galiyat using the nearby Murree Road.

The birds will later be shifted to the Wildlife Park to be located on the eastern boundary-line of QAU along the nullah before Bhara Kahu. It will be part of a herbal tea hut and would include a lake and enclosures for animals and birds to attract tourists.

The work on Botanic Garden started in the middle of January this year and more than 60-hectrate of land was levelled for the BG and its extended project. The BG itself, an HEC funded project, is spread on 25 acres and includes water storage, tissue-culture lab and offices to be set up in near future.

The extended project aims at putting the unattended university land into useful utilisation and also get the land vacated from qabza groups in the process. According to a QAU source, more than 200 acres of land is under illegal occupation of villagers as well as mafia enjoying political support.

The BG also got pigeons, rabbits and dogs donated by individuals, organizations and firms. Many more species are in the pipeline and will be introduced after the requisite infrastructure is established.

In a parallel development, a Kitchen Gardening Club has also started working at QAU. It aims at motivating, guiding and helping Campus Community including faculty, students and employees for kitchen gardening, which has become a necessity to combat food insecurity and rising prices of vegetables, fruits, poultry and fish. The club is part of Pakistan National Kitchen Gardening Club started by GCO some weeks ago.

The QAU staff will be offered to use university land for growing vegetables and fruits for their households each having some marlas of land for the purpose where the teachers and staff can bring their families and work as part of hobby and training and use the produce in their kitchens. The news

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