Employees fear that uniform papers for entire KP may ultimately lead to establishment of centralised KP BISE, which govt has currently canceled owing to employees’ protests | Secrecy of papers can also be an issue under uniform exam.

PESHAWAR     -    Decision of the provincial government to conduct uniform examination under the Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISEs) across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has attracted mixed feelings as meetings at official level continue on the matter. A deputy controller, Alamzeb Khan, told this scribe that meetings are underway at official level to determine if uniform exam is possible to be conducted across the province. He said committee has been made to work on the matter. Recently, the KP government withdrew a notification regarding establishment of a centralised KP BISE after the employees of the boards protested against the proposed project. While the establishment of the centralised KP BISE was cancelled, authorities are conducting regular meetings to discuss the conduct of uniform and same papers for all the boards of the province. Tariq Safi, president of the BISE Employees Union and member of a working group formed for the purpose, told The Nation that a final decision has not been reached. However, meetings continue discussing the arrangement of the same exam papers across all the boards. “Govt wishes to provide the same paper to students in the nook and corner of the province in exams under BISEs and in this respect, we have also been asked to witness the system and procedures of Federal BISE to follow its methodology for exams,” he added. He said the government plans to rely on modern technology in this regard and the same paper can be emailed and printed in any district of the province. However, he said the exam centres of the Federal BISE are all located in posh and cantonment areas where there are internet and electricity facilities while the several centres of KP boards in some districts are very far away from cities and located in areas where printing and power supply are issues. “In Chitral, for example, the exam centre is almost 10 hours drive from the main Chitral city,” he elaborated. He said the government was still weighing all the pros and cons of the matter and would make a final decision in due course. He also said the e-marking introduced recently in the boards as well as the proposed uniform exam would cost a huge amount to the exchequer. “An examiner is paid Rs40 rupees per paper while e-marking per paper is worth Rs74. Also, the normal answer book that has been used for years in board exams is priced at Rs22 bur e-marking answer book costs over Rs40,” he added. Another employee of the BISE, while discussing the issue, said that if the uniform exam is conducted and e-marking introduced, it would ultimately overburden the students and their parents as the fees would increase or even more than double for them. “Secrecy will also become an issue. There have been incidents during exams when the papers have been leaked even during their shifting from the BISE offices in Peshawar to a college in the same city. How would secrecy be ensured when papers would have to be supplied to far off and remote areas of the province?” he added. Sources in the BISE also apprehend that while the government has withdrawn the notification on establishment of KP BISE, they may ultimately establish it at a later stage and they are perhaps paving the way for it by making the exam papers uniform at the initial stage. “In case of uniform papers for all provinces, the posts of controller, chairman and secretary may turn redundant in various borads in the province. It seems the government plans to ultimately establish centralised board but they cancelled the plan currently as a result of employees’ protest campaign,” said a source in BISE. “Realities are different in various parts of the province. A student in a far off area in DI Khan does not have the same teaching and other facilities, as enjoyed by students in Peshawar and other comparatively developed districts of the province. This is why a uniform exam and same papers for all students are not an appropriate decision,” he added. Also, he said the e-marking system is the same like manual checking of papers and anyone using the ID of an examiner can check papers, with no check and monitoring to determine if the examiner checked the papers or someone else did it on his behalf. Meanwhile, Secretary Education Motasim Billah did not reply to comment on the issue, nor he responded to phone calls, dropping a hint that he wants to keep the matter under the carpet