PMA asks govt to hold MDCAT again, supports protesting students

Published October 7, 2021
In this file photo, students take an entrance exam at the Liaquat University of Medical & Health Sciences (LUMHS) in Jamshoro. — APP
In this file photo, students take an entrance exam at the Liaquat University of Medical & Health Sciences (LUMHS) in Jamshoro. — APP

KARACHI: Representatives of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) and students affected by the recently held medical and dental college admission test (MDCAT) demanded that the government cancel results of these exams and organise again it in a transparent manner on a single day across Pakistan.

The demand was made at a press conference held at the PMA House on Wednesday.

“The association believes that students are rightly demanding cancellation of MDCAT results. The exams should be rescheduled and held in a transparent manner. All stakeholders should be on board before taking any major decision regarding these exams,” said Dr Qaiser Sajjad secretary general, PMA-Centre, emphasizing that the contract for conducting the exams should be awarded to a reputed local company on merit.

Sharing how mismanagement in exams began that led to countrywide protests by students, he said the controversy started when the contract for conducting MADCT exams was awarded to a private firm in violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.

Warning of more agitation if authorities fail to act

“The company had no experience in conducting such exams. Even the Transparency International Pakistan pointed to these rules’ violations. Then, the exams held online were marred with administrative problems, wasting students’ hard work,” he said, adding that students were not given the right to complain or get their papers reassessed.

Holding the exams online without proper homework, he said, was another blunder on part of the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC).

“In the past, students were provided with a carbon copy of their answer sheets. Later, a key was uploaded on the website to help students assess their performance due to which candidates never argued over exam results,” he said.

The PMA representatives regretted that the government used force against protesting students and sent many to jail instead of addressing their genuine concerns.

Demand to abolish NLE

They also highlighted their reservations over the National Licensing Examination (NLE) that had been made compulsory for doctors to pass after graduation to obtain full licence to practice.

“This shows that you do not have trust over the medical education system even through the act. This will lead to a mushroom growth of coaching centres across the country and increasing parents’ financial hardships,” said Dr Mirza Ali Azhar, PMA-Sindh president, demanding that the NLE should be abolished and standards of undergraduate medical education should be improved.

The association, he said, had been asking the government to set up a democratic, autonomous, independent and transparent body to regulate medical education in the country.

“But the federal government, in contrast to our demand, passed the controversial PMC act. It’s not an independent body as it’s the prime minister who nominates the council,” he said.

The representatives emphasised the need for consultation with stakeholders while otherwise, they warned that the provinces would be left with no option, but to set up their own bodies to regulate medical education.

Later, students shared their grievances and warned of more protests if the government did not cancel exams.

Dr Qazi Mohammad Wasiq and Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro also spoke.

Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2021

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