LAHORE: Punjab School Education Minister Rana Sikandar Hayat has removed Lahore Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) chairman and controller examination for their alleged involvement in facilitating cheating during class-IX annual exams.

Lahore Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa, who has been given the charge of BISE chairman, has ordered an inquiry into the complaints. The additional commissioner (coordination) will be the head of the inquiry committee.

The minister also conducted a raid at an examination centre in Baghbanpura on Monday and ordered the arrest eight officials involved in facilitating cheating, including five from Government High School Baghbanpura and three from Shalimar College Baghbanpura.

The suspects confessed to getting bribe to give solved answer sheets to the candidates and also allowing impersonation.

Says the controller had employed private persons as invigilators that caused the issue

He said the chairman and the controller were suspended for facilitating the cheating mafia in Lahore. “The controller had given permission to employ private persons to complete strength of invigilators,” Mr Hayat said, alleging that he was threatened by the cheating mafia for exposing them.

He claimed that private school mafia had bribed the board staff to get specific centres for exams. “The centres were being sold for Rs80,000,” he alleged, adding that they had evidence in this regard.

He said acquiring a paper full of answers would cost Rs4,000 to Rs7,000 to each student as the invigilators had posted messages on social media about the charges.

The minister said he would continue exposing the cheating mafia. “So far, 30 suspects have been arrested,” he added.

The ongoing matric annual examinations under the Lahore BISE have been marred by widespread cheating.

Seven centres across the city were sealed and papers of hundreds of students were canceled after inspection teams caught red-handed superintendents, invigilators and students.

The scandal unfolded at the exam centres in various areas, including Sanda, Mozang, Sabzazar, Model Town and Civil Lines.

Meanwhile, Punjab Teachers’ Union Central General Secretary Rana Liaqat Ali stated that there were doubts regarding the transparency of examinations.

He said the suspension of chairman and controller would not yield any benefit unless the branch responsible for appointing examination staff underwent significant changes.

He said the appointment of private individuals as invigilators at certain centres raised concerns. “These individuals are often affiliated with academies, tuition centres, or private schools.”

He said since the centre superintendents were also involved in hiring private invigilators, it was inappropriate to accuse teachers and arrest them.

He urged the chief minister and the education minister to introduce immediate reforms in the examination system, including changing the paper pattern, increasing the remuneration for examination staff, imposing restrictions on private individuals serving as invigilators and involved in marking.

Meanwhile, Punjab Minister Bilal Yasin visited various examination centres of Lahore on Monday and suspended two superintendents and dismissed six invigilators for violating the rules.

He said polio workers and private people were appointed invigilators in the examination centres which was against the law.

The provincial minister issued orders to the education CEO to conduct a transparent inquiry into the issue.

Bilal Yasin paid a surprise visit to the Government Central Model School, Lower Mall, Central Model School, Rattigan Road and Girls High School Dev Samaj, Lahore.

The minister found five private women acting as invigilators in the Dev Samaj school. He suspended the superintendent and dismissed five private invigilators.

He also issued a show-cause notice to the Girls High School Dev Samaj principal for neglecting her duties.

Later, Mr Yasin suspended Central Model Lower Mall Superintendent Shahzada Usman for appointing a polio worker as invigilator.

The minister also expressed displeasure with CEO Education Pervaiz Akhtar for poor supervision and neglect of duties and issued instructions that the administration should ensure concrete measures to prevent cheating in all examination centres.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2024

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