Litigation, increasing number of vacant posts and outdated recruitment rules have been identified as major hurdles for Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) in selecting bright minds for civil service in the country.
Every year, FPSC publishes a report – which carries scathing details about the ailing civil service, identifying the challenges it faces in conducting the Central Superior Services exams and the way out – and submits it in the National Assembly as per constitutional obligation, but as witnessed from the press gallery, hardly a few bother to look into the green book put before them on their desks.
Earlier this month, the report presented in the NA had some eye-opening details and statistics along with suggestions for the government to look into and help the FPSC.
One of the major problems for the commission was finding the right officers for the right group due to “declining education standards caused by sub-standard school education particularly in rural areas.”
Despite all odds, the number of candidates applying for the positions had gone up from 10,066 in 2012 to 12,176 in 2015, the report revealed, adding that in 2016, the number of candidates who appeared in CSS examinations had gone down to 9,642.
The report stated that the total vacant seats, including those reserved for minorities and women, were also increasing, adding that in 2015, there were 95 vacant posts, while in 2014, 2013 and 2011 there were 82, 72 and 45 vacancies, respectively.
Moreover, it revealed that the number of vacant posts reserved for minorities’ candidates had also gone up, but only five slots had been filled during the last three years. In 2013, there were 25 such vacancies, while in 2014 the number went up to 36 and to 44 in 2015. Also, about 100 posts reserved for women had been lying vacant since 2013, the report added.
In the report’s opening keynote address to President Mamnoon Hussain, FPSC chief Haseeb Athar said all he could about the issues, challenges and achievements openly.
Notably, he stated that the commission could not find qualified professionals against technical posts. During 2015, nomination of candidates against 100 posts in BS-16 to BS-20 could not be made due to non-availability of qualified professionals in the specialised fields of information technology, geology, engineering and medicine in 65 cases, he added.
Another major hurdle was litigation as it had been “one of the main hindrances in speedy disposal of recruitment cases”. During the said year, 314 fresh cases were filled in various courts. About 382 cases were brought forward from the previous years, while 212 cases were decided during that year; thus 484 cases were sub judice in different courts of law at the end of the year, the FPSC chief stated in the report.
He wrote that a high number of 378 personal hearings pertained to the specific issue of claim of the candidates that they had studied the same or relevant discipline, but under a different title, adding that with new disciplines being taught in schools, there was a need to realign the recruitment rules by including the disciplines.
The chairperson also urged for career counseling and improving education standards in the country. “There is an increasing trend of high achievers opting for the private sector as their first career choice, primarily for fast career growth and better remuneration,” he said in the note to the president, adding that there was a need to make the service structure more incentivised. Recruitment, performance, compensation, career progression and retirement provide positive reinforcement, he said.
It concluded that the feedback received from the examiners on written scripts as well as the performance of the candidates observed by the commission during interviews, indicates below par standard of education.
“It is a candid opinion of the commission that education in terms of conceptual clarity, learning and instruction is deteriorating and the inadequacies, deficiencies in education system are primarily due to substandard school education and needs to be addressed,” the report stated.
It added that enhanced efforts were required to collaborate with universities and higher education commission to improve the standards of instruction and learning.
Published in Express Tribune