PESHAWAR   -   Thousands of students have failed the 9th-grade exam as the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE), Peshawar piloted a new software for e-marking this time, sources in the education department and BISE told The Nation.

Also, students from several schools staged protest demonstrations outside the Peshawar Press Club, demanding that the authorities either re-check the papers or re-conduct the exam. Several students said that while they had hoped to top their class­es or at least stand among the top three po­sition holders, they were shocked to see the results in which they failed in two or more subjects.

The BISEP usually calls the teachers to the Board offices for checking the papers, which they term “centralised checking” and a group of several examiners check the pa­pers. However, this time the Board authori­ties, while doing manual checking, also tried e-marking of papers through software as a pilot project.

Speaking to this correspondent on condi­tion of anonymity, a senior academician hav­ing served in the education department for more than 20 years stated that the BISE man­agement called teachers to the board offices to check the papers but this time the check­ers were also given computers for e-marking of certain subjects’ papers.

“The papers were converted into PDF for­mat for marking through software, which automatically totalled the marks being giv­en to each candidate/student. However, the software developed a certain fault, which reportedly led to wrong marking,” he add­ed.

“Some 38,000 students have failed in var­ious papers in the 9th class exam this time. It’s impossible that so many students were so much weak that they failed, but definite­ly, the wrong marking created this problem for thousands,” he added.

Also, he said the BISEP has fixed the Rs 500 fee for re-totalling per paper, which means students who failed in several pa­pers would have to deposit quite a reason­able amount for re-totalling of the papers.

If a student fails in one, two or three pa­pers, he or she can be promoted to the next class, provided that the failed papers would have to be attempted and passed in the next exam. However, in case of failure in more than three papers, a student is considered failed and cannot be promoted to the next class.

Another educationist, while discussing the issue, said that even brilliant students, who were supposed to top their class, have also been declared failed in some papers.

Deputy Controller BISEP, Almzeb Khan, said that this time the BISE piloted a soft­ware called “E-MARKING” for checking pa­pers. However, he said only four papers were checked through the E-marking soft­ware and others were marked manually. He also rejected the report that the software had developed a fault.

Also, he said that some schools were se­lected for the checking of their papers through e-marking on a pilot basis and not all centres were subjected to this.

“Studies of students suffered as a result of coronavirus when they were promoted to next class in the year 2020 without an exam and, then in 2021, only four papers were conducted. In this context, maybe the stu­dents were not prepared well for the exam this time,” he added. 

Meanwhile, BISE Employees Union presi­dent Tariq Safi told this scribe that the pa­pers of 72 exam centres in KP were checked through e-marking.

“Only the papers of English, Urdu, Phys­ics and Chemistry of around 30,000 stu­dents, out of the total 86,000, were checked through the software while the rest were checked manually,” he elaborated.

He said that the KP textbook board had also failed to provide books to students of state-run schools. “In some areas, the schools lack teachers, while the textbook board has also failed to provide books to the students of state-run schools despite the passage of several months. In such a sit­uation, such results are not surprising,” he added.

Education Minister Shahram Khan nei­ther picked up calls nor responded to a text message on the issue.