Saad Ullah Baloch
Have a look at following pictures; the people sitting on the floor are candidates taking their BA exams in Quetta, Balochistan.
Around 33000 private candidates applied for BA exams this year; most of them took their exams in conditions similar to the above or worse.
As it can be seen in the photos, there is no proper seating facility and plan, mobile phones go unchecked and cheating seldom attracts serious action. The usual action against cheating is just to snatch the cheating material and let the candidate continue the exams. Cheating in exams is so common that it has developed into a business. Lower staff at the examination centres has been found to be involved in illicitly helping the candidates with cheating material. The most common way is to distribute photocopies of examination paper’s material. Sometimes it eventually comes down to paying Rs. 150-200 to get the paper done and eventually get a BA degree.
According to Dr. Usman Tobalwal, a professor of Pakistan Studies at University of Balochistan, the phenomenon of cheating has become more common over the last decade. “It has been happening in all exams including those of matriculation, intermediate, graduation, and even Masters. I would primarily hold the educational staff responsible for it as they have shaped it into a business”, told Dr. Tobalwal.
Not just the examination centre but the whole marking process is badly infested. Around 700,000 examination papers are checked just by a few dozen people. An official at Balochistan University quoted a real incident when he a saw a junior clerk in secrecy branch, the office where papers are marked, checking papers of BSc class. The official revealed “he was marking papers without even reading and just by measuring length of the answers.”
Balochistan, the most impoverished province of Pakistan, suffers from the worst kind of conditions both for examiners and the students. If candidates for BA exams cannot have a place to sit, the whole budgetary allocations need to be reconsidered. Currently government of Balochistan is annually spending 59,277 million rupees on education which is only 1.8 per cent of the total budget. The Federal government must also consider providing monetary and institutional support to help save education in Balochistan.