Thursday October 21, 2021

Unprecedented marks in HSSC & SSC exams: Fact-finding body formation termed a futile exercise

September 25, 2021

PESHAWAR: Forced by the massive criticism of the unprecedented high marks obtained by students in the recently announced Secondary and Higher Secondary School Certificate Examinations by different boards in the province, the provincial government announced to conduct a fact-finding and assessment committee to look into the matter.

But, academicians, government officials and other stakeholders term the ‘fact-finding committee’ as a mere eyewash to combat the rising criticism instead of taking concrete steps to resolve the matter.

The provincial Education Department through a late Wednesday night notification had stated that the minister had taken note of the situation since day one when the first result was announced. Therefore, he appointed the fact-finding/assessment committee to dig out the reality of the marks, the notification stated.

The committee, according to the notification, would consist of Dr Safia Noor, Additional Director, Directorate of Professional Development, Dr Shafqat Rahman, Directorate of Elementary and Secondary Education, Dr Ajab Khan, IM Science, Hayatabad, Jehad Khan, Principal, Government High School Sheikh Dheri, Swabi, Siar Khan, Subject Specialist of Biology, Hazrat Mohammad, Subject Specialist of Chemistry, Dr Asmatullah Senior Subject Specialist, Maths and Sajjad Ahmad, Subject Specialist of Physics.

They would be authorised to verify and reassess the individual papers of candidates securing above 1090 marks in the SSC, HSSC examination 2021.

It would assess the track record, history of the students between their present marks and marks in previous examination and assessment.

The committee would examine the quality of paper checking and policy process of the boards of intermediate and secondary education and suggest corrective measures, if any, for future examinations.

KP Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education Shahram Khan Tarakai did not respond to a number of calls and messages by this reporter to seek his version about the utility of the committee.

However, academicians and other stakeholders termed the committee formation as a futile exercise and said that nothing would come out of it.

The terms of reference of the committee are self-explanatory as the committee would look into and reassess the papers of the students who have got more than 1,090 marks in the Secondary and Higher Secondary School Certificate examination.

The students of higher secondary level have been exempted from the so-called fact-finding and reassessment here as none of the intermediate students have crossed the figure of 1090 in all the results declared so far.

Therefore, the committee is meant for the students of secondary school certificate level as students in matriculation were able to obtain full marks or one or two marks less than the total marks, which has never been done in the history of education.

Again, the government is responsible for the situation, said an official at the Education Department, wishing anonymity.

It was a government decision to curtail the course and give a smart syllabus, he said.

“Smart syllabus is correct but lessening the subject is something beyond understanding. Then the students were asked to appear in just three or four papers in which marks remain quite solid,” the official pointed out. It made the job of the student easier to prepare only for the elective papers as all the compulsory subjects in which it is always hard to obtain maximum marks had been omitted from the course, he added.

Again such a formula had been designed to distribute the marks secured by the students in the three and four subjects on all the eight subjects and a bonus of five marks was given to the students, he elaborated.

The students securing marks less than the passing marks point - 33 per cent - were given the minimum passing marks so that no one could fail the examination.

The strange formula made the job of certain boards very difficult as some students were getting more marks than the total marks, said a senior official in a board of intermediate and secondary education.

Critics said all this was done at the sweet will of the government.

The minister, who claims to have taken notice of the situation since day one, was the chief guest at the result announcement of the award distribution ceremony on the very first result at the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Peshawar, which was topped in matriculation by a student with 1,098 marks.

An academician told The News that the committee members would check just the three and four papers of the students, which no doubt, they may have done good and would formulate a report that no discrepancy or irregularity was found, which is quite obvious.

The students can do tremendously well in maths, physics and chemistry in which most of the questions are numerical for which they can get full marks, he said.

By exempting them from appearing in the practical examination for the science subjects, the government made the job of the students easier, he said.

Now, it is beyond understanding what the government wants to do by forming a committee.

Similar committees have been constituted in the past as well but the findings were dumped in the files of the secretariat, he said.

The committee is a mere waste of time and resources and nothing else. The members of the committee would hold a few meetings for which they would claim TA/DAs and formulate a routine report, which nobody would check and the time would have passed then and the matter would be forgotten for everyone, the academician said.

Also, the number of students taking more than 1090 marks are just a few in number.

“What difference would it make if their papers are checked or not. The matter pertains to all the hundreds of thousands of students who appeared in the eight boards in the province. And the government as well as the boards don’t have the capacity to recheck and reassess all the papers. And even if they are asked to recheck the papers, they would go by the formula designed by the government and thus they would find the same result,” he said.

It seems to be a political stunt instead of a real step to improve the situation. If the government is really interested in improving the system and standard of education, it should own the right policies, he said.

The academician said it was a fact that the government had failed to take appropriate steps for improving and promoting the education system and the coronavirus pandemic provided it with a major excuse to shrug off its responsibility.