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LAHORE: The Punjab Examination Commission (PEC) could not deliver Class-V English paper to examination centres – forcing over a million students return home without appearing for the paper.

The PEC administration later sent a message to invigilators that the English paper would now be held on Wednesday (today) changing altogether the date-sheet.

Protests by students and their parents were also reported from different cities in the province.

The PEC had started primary standard examination from Feb 21 after its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Nasir Iqbal Malik introduced “interventions” to hold examinations in a fair manner.

The PEC tender committee, headed by CEO Mr Malik, had awarded the contract to Hassan Ijaz printers to print and supply question-papers for 2.2 million Grade-V and VIII students in the province.

The students and their parents were awestricken upon their arrival at examination centres at around 11am, when they were told that the examination had been postponed – without explaining any reason.

The PEC administration sent messages to examination centres’ superintendents and resident inspectors that the English paper would be held on Wednesday (today). The message also stated that the Urdu paper already scheduled for Wednesday, would now be held on Thursday (Feb 26), while Islamiyat paper, scheduled for Thursday, would be given later. The PEC issued a press release late on Tuesday that the Islamiyat paper would now be held on March 3.

The PEC has also revised date-sheet for Class-VIII examination that the science paper will now held on February 28 instead of February 27. The mathematics paper will now held on March 2, English on March 4, Islamiyat (written) and Nazra Quran/Ethics on March 6 and Urdu on March 8.

Different teachers said the candidates and their parents kept asking them about the date-sheet. “The students are now double-minded, whether they will now be appearing for their scheduled Urdu paper or English paper on Wednesday,” a schoolteacher said.

The revision in date-sheet stemmed from PEC’s failure to deliver question papers on Tuesday. The PEC administration had this year outsourced the printing and delivery of question-papers to districts to a single private party.

The project involved millions of rupees. The PEC tender opening committee disqualified three, of the four bidders, on technical grounds.

PEC sources had informed Dawn that printer “Top Mountain” had quoted Rs1.09 per leaf printing and transportation of the question-paper to districts. Sources said that this quotation was also quoted verbally before the tender opening committee.

When contacted, PEC Deputy Director (communication) Shahzad Malik said the commission had postponed the examination because the private party could not deliver question-papers in four districts on time.

Admitting that the postponing of the examination had disturbed almost a million students in Punjab, he said that any action against the commission or the private party would be decided by the higher authorities. He said the private party had failed to deliver the examination material on time in Mandi Bahauddin, Gujrat, Muzaffargarh and Bahawalnagar.

About the rates of printing and delivering of the question papers, Mr Malik said the Hassan Ijaz printer had given Rs1.30 rate that included all taxes, while the Top Mountain had quoted its rate exclusive of all taxes. “The PEC this year gave the contract on some Rs8.8 million less rates than the last year besides getting additional services,” he added.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2015

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