Monday July 15, 2024

BS entrance test results raise questions about meritocracy

By Syed Muhammad Askari
February 12, 2024

The results of the entrance test 2024 for admissions at BS level in 20 departments of the prestigious University of Karachi have sent shock waves through the education sector.

The entrance of the University of Karachi can be seen. — Facebook/Karachi University
The entrance of the University of Karachi can be seen. — Facebook/Karachi University

The performance difference between students from public sector education boards has reached new heights, raising questions about the basic foundation of meritocracy and quality despite spending billions of rupees on the education sector.

A closer examination of the statistics reveals a gloomy picture. Students who passed with ‘A-1’ and ‘A’ grades from public sector school boards in Sindh performed poorly on the entrance test, raising serious concerns about the integrity of their merit.

Notably, the Hyderabad board experienced a disastrous failure, with a meagre five per cent success rate, while the private Ziauddin board did no better, with only four per cent of the students passing the entrance exam.

Despite this bleak picture, there were glimmers of hope. The private Aga Khan board and the Cambridge system performed much better, demonstrating a difference in educational quality.

Out of the 8,099 students who took the admission exam, only 21.3 per cent passed, leaving the remaining 78.7 per cent disappointed. As the results from the different boards surfaced, the differences became more apparent.

The pass percentage of the Aga Khan Examination Board’s applicants was 57.69 per cent, compared to 26.47 per cent of the federal board. The Board of Intermediate Education Karachi’s 23.89 per cent success rate reflected the overall trend of underperformance.

The situation was especially grave for several boards, with the Hyderabad, Larkana and Ziauddin boards recording pass rates of 4.85 per cent, 4.98 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively, portraying a bleak picture of the education scene.

The main reason for this catastrophe can be traced back to the long-standing issue of administrative vacancies that has plagued various education boards. The lack of permanent controllers, chairmen, secretaries and audit officers has fostered arbitrariness and a culture of suggestions, undermining the basic foundation of academic honesty.

A clear example of this administrative inertia is the case of Deputy Controller of Examinations Dr Masroor Ahmed Zai, who has been shouldering the responsibilities of a controller of examinations for a staggering 11 years at the Hyderabad board, which was among those who suffered the worst fate in the entrance test.