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Primary-middle exams an `exercise without lesson`

By Mansoor Malik 2015-02-02
HE Punjab School Education Department is again heading to conduct the massive exercise of primary and middle standard examinations `without clear objectives` as no worthwhile research has so far been conducted on the previous results for interventions to improve the quality of education.

These examinations cost hundreds of millions of rupees to the government kitty.

Some 2.2 million children are expected to appear for the Grade-5 and 8 examinations scheduled later this month by the Punjab Examination Commission (PEC). The students will be examined in the subjects of math-ematics, science, Islamiyat/ Ethics, English and Urdu. The PEC has already removed computer and social studies from the examination list.

Until last year, the department and the PE C were of the view that there was no use holding such a large-scale examination and were disturbed over managing the exercise that posed challenges in the wake of leakage of questionpapers. No research on the primary and middle standard examinations has so far been made public.

PEC Chief Executive Officer Nasir Iqbal Malik said the commission had this year built its institutional capacity and created a Research Wing that would work on the students` result outcomes and suggest interventionsto improve the quality of education.

He said that earlier the wing was manned by one person but now subject specialists including PhDs had been inducted in it.

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) survey 2014 has revealed that the students`learning levels in rural parts of the province are depressingly low.

Over 13pc of Class-VIH students cannot read Urdu and over 16pc cannot read English text, while more than 20pc students cannot do two-digit division.

The report reflects that some 18.2pc Class-V and 22.9pc public school students are taking paid tuitions, while in private schools this incidence stands at 36.8pc and 37.7pc.

Educationists stress that a lotof data and research reports are available and the need is to take appropriate measures while taking all stakeholders on board.

The initiative of gaining collective wisdom is currently missing in the school education department, educationists and schoolteachers regret.

The PEC CEO said he had now made an effort to develop the commission`s infrastructure and expand his team that had only seven members last year. He said the commission would this year examine some 2.2 million children including 40pc from the private schools in the province.

It had also introduced stringent measures to curb cheating in the examinations, he said, adding the commission registered students online with documentsincluding candidates` pictures, parents` CNIC, birth certificate and fathers` mobile numbers.

Malik said the commission was also developing a Question Bank and would prepare six versions of question-papers (of same competence) to be provided to students.

EDO (Education) Lahore Pervaiz Akhtar, however, said the respective districts would prepare question-papers and send them to the PEC for consolidation and development of final papers.

He also said the respective districts would themselves get the question-papers printed according to the specifications provided by the commission.

Malik disagreed with the EDO and said: `What the commission will do, if respective districts will prepare question-papers.` Aboutprinting of question-papers, Malik said, `We will do, which will be appropriate.

On the other hand, the printers andpublishersareholdingmeetings with the secretary education for contracts of printing question-papers.

About the holding of examinations, Malik said the EDO (education) and district monitoring officers had been warned that they would be responsible for any `untoward incident` during the conduct of examinations. He said the PEC would also get third-party evaluation of primary and middle standard examination results.

Punjab School Education Department Secretary Abdul Jabbar Shaheen did not respond despite phone calls and short messages sent on his mobile phones.