BPSC: Flaws in Assessment System

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Ayaz Khan
Article 137 of the constitution empowers provinces to have a hold on executive authority. With this constitutional provision, provinces are burdened with the responsibility to hunt for the intellect which can run the affairs of the province smoothly and effectively. Civil Servants Act, 1973 and Civil Servants Rules, 1974 together structure the edifice of the Pakistan Civil Services. Moreover, the Civil Services are further organized at three levels: All Pakistan Services, Federal Services and Provincial Services. However, Balochistan Public Service Commission seems to have flaws in fulfilling its duty as per the law is enshrined in the constitution. The paper-structuring method of BPSC appears to be a trap rather than a process to search for the intellect needed for the purpose.
The paper-structuring method
Who was the first man to land on the moon? This question, if posed to you by the examiner during taking exam or by one of your mischievous friends, perhaps attempts to assess your command over general knowledge. Yet if the same friend poses the next question, ‘what did Neil Armstrong eat when he was at moon’ might make you laugh and you may answer it as mischievously as the way question is posed! But not to one’s surprise, the same mischievous question was asked from the students taking the provincial competitive exam in Balochistan!
Back in 2016, students, after taking their competitive exam for the post of Tehsildar, made a hue and cry against the alleged mismanagement by Balochistan Public Service Commission (BPSC). Later on, students went for a press conference where they alleged that the paper-structuring pattern of BPSC had gone defunct as the most of the questions, specifically in general knowledge paper, were not relevant. Moreover, the BPSC was alleged to have adopted the method of ‘copy pasting’ in preparing most of the question papers—particularly in English and General Knowledge.
Delving into the matter further, gives quite a legitimate ground to the allegations levelled against BPSC, for the questions asked in general knowledge are awkward and insensible as for as measuring the aptitude of the students is concerned.
“When I had taken my English paper in 2016, my friends and I happened to have a get together. During our conversation we discussed about the questions we had answered in our papers (test was for the post of Tehsildar). Though my friends were from different divisions of Balochistan, yet we were shocked to see the same précis, almost taken from the book ‘Précis Writing’ by R. Dhillon, were mentioned in all English papers, which my friends had attempted so had I,” says one of the candidates who had taken exam in 2016 and wishes not to be named.
In fact, a huge burden, to hunt for the most capable minds for running the affairs of the province, rests on the shoulders of BPSC. However, lifting up the most suitable and intelligent candidates from mammoth crowd of students remains a far cry for the BPSC, for the paper-designing method and lack of management are the bottlenecks laying in the path to find out true intelligence.
“I was quite concerned about the mismanagement during exam, because there were hundreds of students in different halls and I sensed some sort of mismanagement practiced by the administration of BPSC,” shares another candidate with Balochistan Voices, however, he also wishes no to be named. “BPSC seems to encourage an environment of cramming rather than assessing the intellect required for running the provincial affairs. This is because the paper-structuring method of BPSC compels the candidates to memorize rather than being rationale in their approach to different disciplines,” he further adds.
Former Chairman of BPSC, Ashraf Magsi was sacked by Governor Balochistan over charges of irregularities and corruption in November 2014. He was arrested by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) over illegal appointment.
To have the BPSC’s version regarding the allegations levelled by most of the candidates, no one from the office of the director of Examination responded the call and the continuous ringing of the phone fell on deaf ears.
A policy too strict to induct candidates but a quite workable criterion to disqualify them
Mr Abdul Khaliq is a candidate who took his competitive exam back in 2017 for the post of English lecturer (BPS-17). To be fortunate enough, he passed his return test yet stood disqualified even before the interview had decided his fate!
“The issue that they (BPSC) found in my documents was a genuine case as they said. There was a difference of around three months between my result issuing date and the closing date announced by BPSC. After discussing the issue, I visited to redress the date mentioned on my degree. When I reached the administration of Karachi University (KU), they wondered claiming that they had never seen such a case in their entire tenure of 15 years,” Abdul Khaliq explains it to Balochistan Voices.
He had two frequent visits between Quetta and Karachi. He even reached the higher authorities in BPSC and put his issue in front of them, yet he was sent back saying that the case was ‘genuine’, Abdul Khaliq says.
Dr. Attique Shahwani is Deputy Secretary in Services and General Administration Department (S&GAD), which is administrative department of BPSC. He told Balochistan Voices that after 18th amendment the administrative coordination of BPSC has been transferred from Governor Secretariat to S&GAD.
“The term of current BPSC chairman which ended this year was extended by Government of Balochistan for two more years on public pressure,” He said.
Despite several attempts made by Balochistan Voices, BPSC officials did not respond to comment on this matter. However, a source within BPSC on condition of anonymity denied the flaws in paper structuring method and selection policy. “BPSC is doing a fair job in terms of recruitment and all the criticism directed at it in the pretext of policy and paper checking is fully political and mischievous,” said the source.
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Ayaz Khan is a Graduate of Mass Communication from University of Karachi. He is an editorial assistant with Balochistan Voices and also contributes news stories.