PESHAWAR: The elementary and secondary education department on Tuesday cancelled the recent written tests for 4,500 vacancies of teachers in the province over irregularities and weak supervision and asked the testing agency to repeat the exercise within a fortnight.

The Islamabad-based Fair Testing Service had conducted the tests in Aug and Sept in 13 districts of the province with around 300,000 people sitting them.

A notification issued by the education department read, “Contrary to the established transparent process of recruitment, certain irregularities were reported during the conduct of screening tests of teachers by FTS in several district of the province.”

Action taken over irregularities, weak supervision by testing agency

It said the education department after the verification of the reports of alleged irregularities and supervision of several examination halls established by the FTS had come to the conclusion that the FTS had failed to fulfil its contractual obligations of maintaining transparency and fair play.

“Now, on the basis of reports received from the department and independent sources, and subsequent verbal approval of the chief minister, the competent authority has been pleased to order the cancellation of all tests conducted by the FTS across the province,” it read.

The education department directed the testing agency to hold fresh tests within 15 days in accordance with the terms and conditions laid down in the MoU signed for the purpose.

A senior official in the education department told Dawn that the FTS had conducted those tests in Peshawar, Nowshera, Charsadda, Mardan, Swabi, Swat, Kohat, Hangu, Karak, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Lakki Marwat and Tank districts.

“We received reports of poor arrangements and irregularities in examination halls,” he said, adding that most complaints were confirmed by the respective district education officers.

The official said around 300, 000 candidates had sat the tests.

Asked about the nature of irregularities, he said in some examination halls, the candidates were allowed to carry mobile phones during tests, while examination halls were overcrowded, where cheating was easy.

The notification said the department had also directed the director (education) to deploy the field staff of the relevant districts for stringent supervision of the examination centres and to ensure merit and transparency.

It added that the government had embarked on the policy of merit and transparency in recruitment of teachers for several years.

A reliable and transparent system of test and interview has been established through independent testing agencies to attain merit and transparency in recruitment of teachers.

“To this end, more than one agency has been engaged under the proper memorandum of understanding containing elaborate terms and conditions for conducting written tests, it added.

The official said the education department would appoint monitors to examine written tests to be held in the next 15 days.

He said the MoU could be cancelled with the FTS if irregularities were found again.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2019