KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Wednesday rejected the Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) conducted by the Pakistan Medical Commission and asked the provincial government to approach the centre to “take back” the test.
Speaking on an admitted adjournment motion moved by Syeda Marvi Faseeh of the Pakistan Peoples Party against “irregularities” in the MDCAT, Health Minster Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho told the house that education was a provincial subject after the 18th Amendment.
She said that it was the first time that the federation conducted the entrance test for admissions in medical colleges as it was being done at the provincial level in the past.
Dr Pechuho said that the provincial government didn’t recognize the PMC as it had severe reservations over the commission’s establishment.
A PTI lawmaker says candidates from Sindh were ‘too weak to match with students of other provinces’
She said that they had moved the apex court against replacement of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council by the PMC “as it was established after bypassing the jurisdiction”.
PMC formed without Sindh’s input
The health minister was of the view that regulatory bodies were formed in consultation with all stakeholders, adding that provinces’ input was not taken before formation of the PMC.
“We have reservations that as there are no health professionals in the PMC. You (federal government) cannot impose the PMC on us,” she added She said that the defunct PMDC used to give policy and set curriculum for the test that was conducted by respective provincial governments.
“The PMC had assured the court that MDCAT would be conducted as per common syllabus but it was done according to the federal syllabus,” the minister said, adding that 10 questions of the test were ambiguous and the candidates had no clue whatsoever about the exam.
She asserted that education was a provincial subject, but the centre was “unlawfully” trying to take control of it.
She said that the testing system should have been transparent, adding that the provincial government had “crystal-clear” testing mechanism as the students were also provided with the answer keys at the website after the examination.
The health minister said that the province was already facing a shortage of doctors to treat patients and this act would increase the disparity between the required and actual number of doctors.
She said that the medical students of other provinces would go back to their hometowns and start practicing there after completing studies in Sindh and we would be left with acute shortage of doctors.
The minister said that the provincial cabinet had decided that 95 per cent seats in private medical institutions would be reserved for Sindh-domiciled candidates and five per cent to be allocated on reciprocal basis with private institutions of other provinces.
“You cannot impose PMC on us,” she said.
PTI lawmakers’ loyalty towards Sindh questioned
The health minister was critical of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmakers who came up with the arguments to defend the federal government’s act She said that they were not loyal to the province and went against its interests. “If you cannot be loyal to Sindh, why are you sitting here? Go to Islamabad,” she told the PTI members.
She also thanked the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and Grand Democratic Alliance for supporting the adjournment motion. Sidra Imran of the PTI said that the candidates belonging to Sindh were unable to pass the MDCAT “as they were too weak to match with students of other provinces”.
“How could the Sindh students compete with candidates of other provinces as they are deprived of education,” she said.
She said that around 6.5 million children were out of school in the province as autaqs were established in educational institutions.
Later, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla presented a motion, asking the provincial government to approach the federal government to take back the MDCAT conducted by the PMC.
The motion was carried unanimously.
Labour card from next month
Meanwhile, Labour and Human Resources Minister Saeed Ghani said the provincial government was going to issue the ‘Benazir Mazdoor Card’ from next month.
Replying to the lawmakers’ verbal and written queries during Question Hour, he said that in the pilot project starting from February, the provincial government would issue cards to over 625,000 labourers. “They will also provide social security to the workers,” he added.
Mr Ghani added that as per existing laws, only industrial workers were entitled to the relief by department but now they were bringing amendments to enable all labourers to get the card.
He said that the procedures would be 100 per cent transparent as the card would be equipped with a chip.
Later, Minister Chawla introduced the Millennium Institute of Technology and Entrepreneurship Bill, 2020 and the same was sent to the standing committee for further deliberations.
The sitting was adjourned till Thursday (today).
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2021