schedule of the HSSC exams should change starting next year

Karachi:06 June:Students taking this year’s intermediate examinations are likely to secure low marks because of frequent spells of heatwave and electricity load-shedding, which are adversely affecting their physical and mental health.

Educationists, teacher organisations and relevant officials have, however, agreed that the schedule of the Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) exams should change starting next year.

Besides heatwaves and power outages affecting their performance in the exams, students are forced to take their papers in the absence of essential facilities such as potable water and furniture.

Board of Intermediate Education Karachi (BIEK) officials have admitted that timely measures were not taken before the start of the annual exams. Resultantly, the inadequate arrangements at exam centres compounded the students’ miseries.

Lack of focus

Talking to The News, many students complained of being unable to concentrate on their papers because of hot weather, power outages and missing fans at the exam centres.

Sheraz Ahmed, a second-year student at the DJ Science College, said that most students were unable to complete their papers in time. “With the students fasting and braving power outages night and day, it’s no wonder they can’t concentrate.”

Another second-year student, Riaz Afridi, said that up to 50 students were accommodated in a single room with no fans, adding that even though the scorching weather was unbearable, the invigilators forbade them from drinking water.

“When I protested, an invigilator threatened me that if I did not take my exam silently, a case of using unfair means will be registered against me.” Mehboob Ali Jaffri, a senior official in the Board of Secondary Education Karachi’s research department, said the weather always affects the results of an examination. “I have observed that heatwaves affect students’ performance.”

Hamid Khan, a retired teacher, said that hot weather affecting students’ routine is no news at all, but the fact that exams are not conducted according to the modern definition of the assessment process is.

Habiba Hanif, a teacher at the Government Girls Secondary School Liaquatabad, also admitted that heatwaves affect students during exams, but she stressed that teachers are not to blame for the situation.

Who’s to blame?

BIEK Chairperson Prof Inam Ahmed said the board had issued funds to the administrators of the exam centres so they could make proper arrangements for students, but they did not utilise the money for that purpose.

He claimed that during the Sindh Education Department’s steering committee meeting on February 7, he had suggested rescheduling the HSSC academic session and exam timetable, but the relevant authorities ignored his proposal.

All Private Schools Management Association Chairperson Syed Khalid Shah said the authorities decide almost all the matters over a majority opinion in the steering committee meeting. He said if the authorities insist on conducting exams during hot weather, officials of the education boards should facilitate the students as well.

Pakistan Education Forum Chairman Anisur Rehman said the rules are not set in stone; they can be changed. The academic calendar is flexible; if the education department can reschedule the summer holidays, then the exam timetable does not need to be fixed as well, he added.

He said that many environmental changes have been occurring as a result of climate change, but our authorities do not take them seriously, adding that these changes are expected to keep on intensifying.

Prof Ferozuddin Siddiqui, central president of the Sindh Professors & Lecturers Association, said the timetable of admissions and the date of starting the academic year should be revised.

He said students wait almost three to four months for their exam results and then apply for admissions at public educational institutions late. Private colleges close enrolments in August, while public colleges start classes in October, resulting in delayed start of the academic session, he added.

Steering committee

The steering committee comprises more than 50 members, which include representatives of private schools and colleges, college and teacher organisations as well as education department officials.

Every year the members meet the education minister to decide the date of starting the academic year, the timetable of summer and winter holidays as well as exams among other subjects. But due to differences between the steering committee’s members, they fail to find permanent solutions.
HSSC exams phase-II
The BIEK conducted the first phase of this year’s HSSC exams from April 24 to May 17 for the science, home economics, medical technology and commerce groups. The second phase for the humanities group is under way until June 12.The news.