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ISLAMABAD: A Senate special committee on Tuesday suggested a screening test for candidates wishing to appear in the competitive CSS examination.

The committee formed to examine the curriculum of different groups and the possibility of bringing about a qualitative change in the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) met with Senator Muzafar Hussain Shah in the chair.

The members discussed various issues and observed that there was a dire need for starting a screening test as the number of candidates appearing in the CSS exam had increased four to five times during the last a couple of decades.

On the other hand, the size and capacity of the FPSC has not increased. The committee has so far held several meetings to finalise recommendations which will be presented in the Senate.

Secretary FPSC Ameer Tariq Zaman and other officials informed the meeting that there was no need for increasing the number of six compulsory and optional subjects for the CSS exam. They said the current subjects were updated and fulfilled the contemporary requirements.

However, the convener of the committee said the syllabus of history and international relations revolved around a limited number of countries. “Focus should also be paid on Gulf countries, North Africa, Malaysia and major OIC countries,” he said.

Senator Saud Majeed said like the history of America, the history of China should also be included in the optional subjects.

According to a working paper submitted to the committee by the FPSC, the latter was also in favour of staring a screening test as a short-term step. As a mid-term measure, the FPSC said, “Based on the study of international best practices of recruitment in the civil services, a shift is required from academic-based conventional exam to the inclusion of psychometric testing. Psychometric test can be used as part of the recruitment and selection process by employers to assess the ability in specific skills (such as verbal, numerical and diagrammatical reasoning) or to find out about the personal qualities by using personality questionnaires.”

Proposing long-term measures, the FPSC called for automation. It said the current system of recruitment used by FPSC was in place for the last about 100 years. It has worked very well with a lot of credibility. However, the world as we know is undergoing dramatic changes with the advent of digital age.

The commission also proposed certain other measures which will have to be undertaken in conjunction with any reform in the selection process.

Senators Saleem Zia, Daud Achakzai, Mir Kabeer Shahi, Taj Haider, Mohsin Leghari attended the meeting.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2018