After candidates appearing in the Central Superior Services (CSS) examinations last year under performed in the worst-ever manner, securing a pass percentage of 2.06 per cent, a fact-finding body within the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) suggested radical changes in curriculum and examination pattern besides urging provinces to improve their standards of education.
The FPSC came under harsh criticism after only 202 (2 per cent) students could pass out of as many as 9,643 candidates who sat in the written tests of CSS.
The percentage of candidates qualifying the written test declined from 9.75 per cent in 2011 to 2.09 per cent in 2016.
Members of the FPSC panel finalised the four-page proposal after results were widely discussed in parliament and the media.
According to sources in the FPSC, these proposals will now be laid before the FPSC’s board meeting in the next few weeks.
Most of the members of the panel expressed concern about the overall decline in education and its quality across the country. They stated that it was not at par with modern demands and badly impacting the superior examinations.
They also pointed out that the so-called preparatory academies, ‘guess papers’ and other such material was often used by candidates as short cuts to succeed in CSS exams.
The board specifically suggested changes in the English language question papers and that it needs to be reviewed. One of the proposals is aggregating the marks for English essay and précis or composition and the candidate must pass in both.
According to the FPSC report of 2016, about 92 per cent (8,894) candidates failed in English précis and composition writing while 81 per cent (7,841) students failed in English essay.
“Many elements being asked and used in the CSS English paper are outdated and impractical in modern day,” said an official, who was privy to the report, adding that for instance idioms, phrases or classic literature was being taught and answers being expected from students “are worthless.”
There was also proposal for conducting a single exam in a day instead of the prevailing trend of asking the candidates to appear in two in a day.
“Several members agree with this proposal but some do not but the commission will have the final say (in this regard),” the senior official said.
Another important proposal is distributing question papers among more than one examiner.
“Usually if there is English paper then only one person marks about 10,000 question papers … The rationale behind this is standardised marking,” the official said.
Another proposal suggests giving at least 25 per cent of papers to a person other than the examiner himself for rechecking.
The commission was also recommended to minimise marks for technical subjects such as mathematics, physics and chemistry from 200 to 100 as “they are not much relevant in civil services, allowing candidates to choose other subjects”.
Reformatting of question papers was another major proposal as in the past, it impacted the performance of the results and students.
“Precise, to the point and brief questions should be included in a question paper,” said the official, adding that once students were asked about the impact of terrorism on economy but about 90 per cent of the candidates did not relate it to the economy and focussed mostly on terrorism.
The official said that they have also urged the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and education ministries of all provinces to improve and upgrade their standards of education, which was not satisfactory at all.
Published in : Daily Express Tribune