Col Ikram Ullah Chitral

HSSC board exam results 2021, a farcical show

Col (r) Ikram Ullah Khan

The recent Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) board exam results announced by the Education Boards across the country has turned out to be odiously farcicalmaking a mock of examination and raising eyebrows of many as to the fairness and objectivity of the entire evaluation process with the toppers securing 1100/1100 unheard of in the history of education. The boards that have been a bit parsimonious have awarded their toppers 1098/1100 thus placing them at a disadvantageous position as compared with their peers from other boards bagging 1100/1100. How did it come about? The answer is very plain, i.e. the flawed evaluation/testing policy announced in the inter-provincial education ministers’ meeting held in Islamabad a couple of months back with the federal education minister Mr. Shafqat Mahmood in the chair. Strangely enough, no educationist worth the name was invited in the meeting to give his input/expert opinion. All those who participated in the meeting and formed part of the decision-making don’t have even the remotest connection with education. No sane person can endorse the decisions taken in the meeting regarding testing of the students.

It’s hard to comprehend the logic behind examining the students in elective subjects skipping the compulsory ones. Compulsory subjects which include English and Urdu act as a balancer thus maintaining an equilibrium and making the result graph acceptable. It seems that the faulty measurement and evaluation tools employed in the recent examination failed to judge the firm grasp of the students over a subject thereby putting the reliability and accuracy of the entire examination into question. The concept of inclusivity which once formed an integral part of education evaluation system is no where seen in the entire evaluation process thus making it a futile exercise.

Unfortunately, the rat race for getting maximum marks has pushed the much needed standard to the background to take a back seat.The boards have been turned into a mere marks generating machine. One can think of securing 100% marks in mathematics only that too in exceptional cases. In no other subject one can ever imagine to get 100% score. Resultantly, the standard has seriously been compromised. You ask a topper from any board to write an application addressing the school principal to grant him leave, I bet he will not be able to write even a single correct sentence either in English or Urdu. How ludicrous it sounds that a student secures above 90% marks without attending school/college even for a single day during the entire academic year. Everyone knows that around two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, schools and colleges have remained closed which has done an incalculable damage to education thereby creating a crisis situation calling for extraordinary measures to be taken on war-footing that could put the educational process back on the path of recovery. This education crisis is indicative of the dilemma the policy makers are facing vacillating between closing educational institutions and opening them. This cat-and-mouse play with education has been going for the last two-and-a-half year.

The faulty evaluation system is apparent from the fact that inflated marks are awarded to the students across-the-board without applying reliable measurement and evaluation tools and without realizing that by displaying  this untenable generosity they are damaging our future generation.Relate all this with the stereotyped old and outdated method of teaching and learning process practiced in our schools and then see the inflated marks students are getting in board examinations.

It’s a common knowledge that in our schools traditional method of teaching and learning is being followed. At primary level, lessons largely consist of rote memorization, with teachers reciting the contents of textbooks to a class consisting of 30-40 children, and students chanting back what the teachers say. There is no concept of conceptual learning. This makes a fragile base upon which the edifice of secondary and tertiary education is built.  With this tenuous educational foundation, we make the students appear in Secondary and Higher Secondary School Certificate examination conducted by different boards across the country.What makes the entire education process more comical is that students manage to secure above 90% marks with toppers bagging 100%, and the HSSC results recently announced by the boards across the country bear testimony to this mock exercise.

All said and done, there is an intense need to take stock of the ongoing evaluation/examination process being practiced by our education boards and even at university level in order to rationalize the evaluation system that could produce genuinely educated youth. Imagine for a moment, if a student with 90% or above marks under the existing evaluation system manages to get entry into professional colleges and at the end of the day becomes a doctor, engineer, economist or other professional what could be the fate of this nation. A point to ponder over with all seriousness.

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