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Saturday April 20, 2024

All officials of BSEK examination dept held responsible for manipulation in matric exams

The inquiry committee submitted its report and recommendations to the interim CM on February 21

By Our Correspondent
February 23, 2024
This image shows the building of the BSEK in Karachi. — Facebook/Board of Secondary Education Karachi
This image shows the building of the BSEK in Karachi. — Facebook/Board of Secondary Education Karachi

An inquiry committee constituted by Sindh Caretaker Chief Minister Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar to probe the allegations of manipulation in the results of the annual examinations of SSC Part-II 2023 (matriculation) held by the Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK) has held the entire examination section of the board responsible for tainted results and recommended a probe into the officials’ conduct by the provincial Anti-Corruption Establishment.

After receiving complaints about manipulation in the matriculation results, the interim CM constituted a three-member committee comprising School Education Secretary Dr Shereen Mustafa (chairperson), Additional Secretary Universities & Boards Afshan Rubab and Universities and Boards Section Officer Zuzain Katbar.

The inquiry committee submitted its report and recommendations to the interim CM on February 21. Justice (retd) Baqar approved the recommendations and sent them to the chairman of the matric board for implementation.

The report held the BSEK examination team, including the controller, deputy controller, assistant controller and IT team, responsible for glaring mistakes in the results. The committee stated that It was unclear what the actual exam results were before they were announced, and how many changes were made during the announcement and publication process.

Imran, the then acting controller of the examinations, provided a written statement in response to the committee’s queries, which only partially served the purpose. The committee requested the actual result on CD or USB for comparison, but it was not provided with.

According to the report, Deputy Controller Khalid Ehsan was holding one of the positions that were directly related to the process of the result, but he was appointed as one of the members of the internal inquiry committee.

The IT wing/computer wing, which is a linchpin of all subject activities, had been ignored by the board administration, the inquiry committee observed. The report stated that a new software was introduced in the BSEK in 2023. As the matric students were enrolled in the previous year under the old software, the new software calculated only the marks of the examinations taken this year and included them in the gazette. Furthermore, Grade grace was not included in the gazette due to mismatching of the two software, which the committee termed a glaring act of inefficiency.

The board had introduced the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) system but the teachers involved in assessing the answer sheets were not provided with any training, resulting in a significant number of errors. This was a major issue on the part of the BSEK administration, the report said.

The committee noted that both the system provider consulting firm and the BSEK administration were responsible for providing complete hands-on training before implementing such new systems.

The report said that it was clear that the execution and maintenance of record for both old and new students was not done properly. The complete gazette available did not offer any user-friendly solutions.

The inquiry committee held the entire examination team including the controller, deputy controller, assistant controller and IT team, responsible for glaring mistakes and suggested that their mala fide intent be probed through agencies like the Anti-Corruption Establishment.

The committee recommended departmental action against all delinquent officers as mentioned even in the Board’s internal inquiry report. The committee complained that none of the officers including the chairman cooperated with them in provision of mark sheets and access to information, and even selected mark sheets were provided after lot of reminding.

Upon reviewing the various departments of the board involved in the examination, the committee observed that the IT Cell, Software Consulting Firm and Contract Administration were particularly weak and did not seem to be efficiently carrying out their responsibilities. Additionally, it was noted that the staff in the examination branch were casual and careless during the inquiry and they often resorted to blaming each other in a highly unprofessional manner. The committee stated that the BSEK chairman had failed to introduce reforms and improve the performance of the board.