Saturday September 18, 2021

SSC annual exams kick off with leaked paper, late start and blame game

SSC annual exams kick off with leaked paper, late start and blame game

Before the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Annual Examinations 2021 began on Monday, the first question paper of physics had been leaked on WhatsApp groups, and later widely spread on other social media platforms.

Moreover, centre control officers (CCOs) and invigilators could not ensure timely delivery of question papers to several examination centres. Board officials have suspended a number of examiners posted at various centres over administrative negligence.

Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK) Chairman Syed Sharaf Ali Shah had forwarded a letter to the law enforcement agencies through the district administration on Friday, asking that Section 144 be enforced at all the exam centres to prevent external interference. Photostat shops would also be kept closed during exam hours.

Despite such arrangements, the leaked paper was available at photostat shops located near exam centres. Besides mismanagement during exam hours, hundreds of students registered complaints about late delivery of question papers at exam centres.

Responding to the reports, the BSEK spokesperson said Controller of Examinations Syed Mohammad Ali Shaiq had directed the centre superintendents and CCOs of all exam

centres to give extra time to students where papers were distributed late.

A total of 348,249 students are taking the SSC annual exams this year at 438 exam centres, with 201 of them set up for female students and 237 for male.

BSEK’s stance

The BSEK has held the CCOs responsible for late delivery of question papers, saying that the board would take legal action against the absent CCOs.

The board has formed a three-member committee comprising senior officers Hur Mazhar, Khalid Ehsan and Syed Munir Hassan. They will submit their report to the BSEK chairman within two days.

The BSEK spokesperson said in a statement that the physics exam began late at some centres, causing problems to invigilators and students, but the exams controller resolved the matter by allowing students extra time.

The board has established 11 central examination hubs across Karachi to handle the distribution of exam papers. Board officials are responsible for distributing not only question papers but also thermometers and masks. But some CCOs did not go to the hubs, which then caused mismanagement.

Now the BSEK has decided to increase the number of hubs to 18. The letters of all the CCOs have been cancelled. All the superintendents or their authorised representatives can get the exam papers by sending a letter of authority to the central examination centre.

Ghani’s reaction Responding to a user on Twitter about the leaked paper issue, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani said he was looking into the matter. He, however, clarified that educational boards were not under his control, and that he had schools and colleges departments.

His media coordinator later issued a short statement, in which the minister said there had been reports of late delivery of question papers at some exam centres. “Although boards don’t come under my ministry, I’m looking into the matter. Schools and colleges come under the control of the education ministry; boards and universities don’t.” He said he had received information from the BSEK chairman and exams controller about late delivery of papers. “They have been told to deliver papers to the exam centres on time.”

Khuhro’s response

Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, the chief minister’s adviser on board and universities, said in a statement that the universities & boards department has taken notice of the late delivery of questions papers.

Expressing anger over the BSEK chairman and exams controller, he asked why the papers were delivered late on the first day of the exams. He said the chairman is responsible for administrative negligence, adding that they should have made proper arrangements for timely delivery of the papers.

He asked the BSEK chairman and exams controller to explain their positions, saying that he would not tolerate the practice. “An immediate investigation was carried out, after which board officials have suspended several CCOs posted at various exam centres,” read the statement.

Schools’ concerns

All Private Schools Management Association Sindh Chairman Syed Tariq Shah said the BSEK’s incompetent staff has put the academic reputation of thousands of students at stake. He said the two-hour exam began two hours late at one centre and two and a half hours late at another.

Shah said the steering committee of the school education & literacy department had decided to reduce the syllabus because the minister had made the annual exams mandatory for students.

The board chairman later also reduced the exam duration of each subject to two hours, but this easy task was carried out in such an awful manner that the exam process has been turned into a joke, he added.

“We strongly condemn this irresponsible behaviour of the BSEK officials, as well as demand departmental action against those who were responsible for this administrative mismanagement.”

More condemnations

A statement issued by Jamaat-e-Islami city chief Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman condemned the disarray observed on the first day of the SSC exams. He said the provincial government’s tall claims of conducting transparent exams have fallen flat.

He said the education system and the quality of education in Sindh is almost on the verge of collapse. “If the provincial government can’t conduct proper exams for the ninth and 10th grades, how will it solve bigger problems?”

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s lawmakers have held the provincial government, especially the education minister, responsible for the whole affair. “There’s no precedent for such irregularities and mismanagement in exams. This is another major addition to the incompetence of the Sindh government,” read their statement.

They demanded that the Sindh governor and the federal education minister take notice of this situation, and provide a better environment and proper arrangements for students to take their exams.