Students sit exams at two different centres in the city on Tuesday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Students sit exams at two different centres in the city on Tuesday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: Students braved several shortcomings, some at examination centres and some at the hands of their examination board, as the Matric, or Secondary School Certificate, exams for Part-I and Part-II commenced under the Board of Secondary Education Karachi (BSEK) here on Tuesday.

Many male students were seen appearing for their exams in uncomfortable and difficult circumstances at the Children’s Education Centre Government Boys Secondary School in North Nazimabad. The invigilators there said that they could obviously see the problems faced by the students, but they were helpless, too.

“What can we do? We can see that the candidates are uncomfortable and some of them are complaining of backache, too. But it’s something that the board should have looked into beforehand,” a female invigilator, supervising the morning computer science exam for class nine in a makeshift setting in the staff room of the centre, told Dawn.

The students appearing for their exams in that room were made to work on folding tables that were too low. They looked very uncomfortable and unhappy when asked by a media person taken on a round of the centres by the BSEK if they were fine with the arrangement. Even the surface of the little uneven tables was made of hardboard.

Pathetic conditions, admit card complaints, loadshedding show students true face of ‘govt arrangements’

Upstairs in the same centre, there were several boys being made to appear for their exams in a narrow balcony without any fans.

Many complained that they were thirsty. “I have been requesting for water for over one hour now but no one seems to care,” complained one unhappy student as others around him also raised their hands to inform that they were thirsty also.

“What can I do? I am alone here in this balcony. I can’t leave them here unsupervised to fetch jugs of water for them,” said the male invigilator strolling back and forth by the little makeshift desks placed in a line there.

Meanwhile, in the regular classrooms, where they did have proper school furniture in the form of wooden desks and benches, many places with roll numbers pasted on the top right hand corner of the desks were vacant. The students had not made it to their examination centres.

There were complains earlier that many students could not be supplied with their computerised admit cards in time and the vacant spaces pointed to that issue.

Still when the question of the admit cards mix-up was put to BSEK Chairman Prof Syed Sharaf Ali Shah, he said that such issues were expected to crop up when you have so many students to deal with. “What’s a mix-up of a few hundred admit cards when you are working with almost four hundred thousand candidates? Still, my staff has remained up the entire night to fix and clear all issues and they have been able to despatch most admit cards to those who have still not gotten theirs,” he said.

He also added that where things could still not be sorted out as regards admit cards, the board would make sure that the students who had missed any exams would be allowed to sit for the exams later on.

The chairman said that he was glad to report that examination at most examination centres started on time at 9.30am sharp. “There was not much of an issue of delay in reaching of the question papers at the centres this year. But in case it happened anywhere, the students appearing for that paper will be allowed extra time,” he said.

Responding to a question about loadshedding at some centres despite the board’s having requested K-Electric to not switch off power where exams were being conducted, he said that the Board did what it could in this regard. “We had written to KE while giving them a list of the examination centres so that they ensure power supply to the areas where the centres are located,” he said.

When informed that the KE had said that they had never received the BSEK request because perhaps they had sent their letter to a wrong department or section of the power utility, the BSEK Chairman said that in that case the KE department they sent their letter to should not have received it in the first place and should have directed them to the correct department.

The students were supposed to complete their multiple choice questions (MCQs) section carrying 40 marks in the first half hour of the three-hour examination while the remaining two-and-a-half hours were to be utilised in solving the remaining paper of short answer and long answer questions carrying 40 and 20 marks, respectively. Surprisingly many of them complained that they found the MCQs difficult or tricky, as shared by a senior invigilator.

That said that most of the female students seemed to have no issues in solving the same paper. At the one of the centres dedicated for girls, the invigilator said that she was also glad to encounter no problems from the girls.

“It’s the first big examination, a major milestone in their lives, and they all seem to be handling things quite well. Hope they also do well,” she said.

But even though the girl students seemed quite chill and confident, outside the same centre one passed by their very nervous mothers waiting for them in the heat for the entire three-hour duration of the exam praying for their success.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2022

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