PESHAWAR: In a damning indictment of the outdated education system, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Service Commission has pointed out that majority of the candidates with postgraduate degrees could hardly answer basic questions in their respective subjects at the screening tests for different jobs.
The PSC has expressed concern in its fresh report over the poor quality and low standard of postgraduates being produced by the educational institutions in KP.
“Majority of the candidates possess very weak comprehension base especially in the domain knowledge. The candidates appearing in the screening tests for appointment in BPS-17 and above in the government departments possess only superficial understanding of the related subject,” states the report.
It says that due to weakness in specific discipline, such candidates fail to offer analytical answers. “In mathematics and statistics, majority of the candidates with postgraduate and MPhil degrees prove unable to answer elementary level simple questions of division in their white board demonstration during the interview,” adds the report while giving an example of the competency of the candidates produced by the universities.
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It says that the candidates admitted that they were unable to solve simple questions of basic mathematics without the help of a calculator.
“In languages and literature, worse scenario was noted. Grammar, syntax and pronunciation of Urdu and English and explanation of poetry of great poets were all found to be of the ground level,” adds the report.
The commission has also noticed during the screening tests and interviews of the candidates that they don’t even read a newspaper. A few candidates claimed that they read national level newspapers; however, they were found unaware of the major happenings at regional and international levels, it says.
In its report, the PSC has also depicted a bleak picture of the government servants’ knowledge it came across during the in-service examination under ‘fast track promotion quota’. “Officers/officials with five to 15 years of experience, having served on important/elevated positions, were found deficient in basic professional knowledge for the related field,” states the report.
This can be judged from the fact that only 61 of the total 212 candidates could qualify the bare minimum threshold of the passing marks, it says. Generally poor performance of the candidates is reflective of the existing educational standards and environment in the educational institutions.
“The overall academic evaluation system of the educational institutions does not focus on the personality development and leadership qualities. Resultantly, candidates are shaky and lack confidence to put across their arguments convincingly during interviews,” says the report.
In its suggestions, the Public Service Commission has urged the government to introduce reforms in the education system according to modern needs, saying otherwise it will be at a loss for finding suitable and qualified people to shoulder the responsibility of the state.
“It has been noted that the quality and extent of knowledge of the candidates, having postgraduate qualification, is superficial,” says the report. It adds that candidates have a trend of reliance on substandard guidebooks rather than original material.
It says that the problem of limited knowledge hampers the actual potential of candidates. The responsibility here lies with the teaching institutions. The PSC has also questioned that “are the teaching institutions properly equipped with teaching faculty and do they provide scholarly environment to their students.”
It states that there is no system of teacher evaluation. Now it is time for the higher education institutions to seriously focus on quality teaching and effective learning to produce knowledgeable students.
The performance of candidates in the commission is reflective of their educational institutions they attended. The same in return is dependent on quality of teaching.
The report says that the role of Higher Education Commission is of great importance for setting internationally recognised standards of teaching methods.
“It must be made obligatory that poor performance of students may also entail the faculty members’ performance and their future career in the department,” it adds.
Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2023