Matric students suffer as BSEK fails to supply first exam paper on time

Published July 6, 2021
Students attempt their papers in the heat without working ceiling fans at an examination centre in Nazimabad on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
Students attempt their papers in the heat without working ceiling fans at an examination centre in Nazimabad on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: The disposable masks, the sanitizers and electronic thermometers all reached the designated secondary education examination centres on time along with the nervous students and invigilators though the same could not be said about the question papers on the first day of the final Matric exams here on Monday.

Many examination centres, where the morning physics exam for class 10 was to commence at 9.30am, had to wait for the question paper to reach them for over two to four hours. And then when the papers finally arrived, they were snatched from the students’ hands after a few minutes as it was revealed that the paper had been leaked on social media.

There were the worried teachers and invigilators, who had distributed the answer sheets but didn’t have the question papers to give to the students. They only had blank faces, as blank as the answer sheets, for them. There were the worried, not to mention jittery, students, who had woken up early in order to reach the examination centres on time.

Education minister terms situation alarming; board official blames absent centre control officers for delay

And there were the even more worried parents who didn’t know what to make of the delay in the papers reaching the centres and the affect it would have on their children’s final results. They had arrived to pick up their children after the exam only to learn that they were still waiting inside for their question papers.

Paper leaked through WhatsApp

On top of that, to make matters even worse, the paper everyone was waiting for so impatiently got leaked on WhatsApp after about two-and-a-half hours waiting for it at the exam centres. And that leaked paper was already solved.

School managements didn’t know what to make of it all and complained profusely. Some said that the exams were unnecessary anyway. Others said that the Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK) had gathered rust during the lockdowns and was totally incompetent and completely unable to hold exams anymore. “They charged exam fees but could not deliver the exam paper,” said one appalled school owner.

It was a complete fiasco. Everyone was blaming everyone. When news of the matter reached Sindh Minister for Education Saeed Ghani, he said that his ministry only covered schools and colleges, and that examination boards were out of his domain. “But what happened is very alarming and disturbing,” he said.

Inquiry body formed

Taking notice of the failure of the BSEK, Chief Minister’s Adviser on Universities and Boards Nisar Khuhro has demanded a report of what went wrong from BSEK chairman Prof Syed Mohammed Sharf Ali Shah and secretary Mohammed Ali Shaiq.

He has ordered an immediate inquiry into the matter.

According to BSEK, it was the irresponsibility of their centre control officers that caused the delay. Some of them remained absent from duty due to which the papers could not reach several centres in New Karachi, North Karachi, North Nazimabad, Orangi Town, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Shah Faisal Colony, Kharadar and the Hub area, too, on time.

A BSEK spokesman told Dawn that out of a total number of 443 exam centres, the papers failed to reach some centres in the areas mentioned.

He said that the board had taken immediate action by cancelling the authorisation letters of the centre control officers who were absent and more legal action was also to be expected.

The board also formed a three-member inquiry committee with Hoor Mazhar, Khalid Ahsan and Syed Munir Hasan as members to look into the matter and submit their report within two days.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2021

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