The examination and education
system in Pakistan is worsening day by day with no sign of improvement. The same
course taught at the intermediate level over and over again, a stagnant
examination system with no sense, whatsoever, of conceptual study, cramming
system, education boards' examination invigilators accepting bribes to let
students cheat in the exams, irresponsible exam checking at the board
level...All this combined has made the present examination system to lose its
credibility and has compelled the professional colleges and universities to go
for other ways of assessing students i.e. Entrance Tests. Considering the
opportunity advantageous, 'teachers and professors' have opened Entrance test
preparation academies as their 'shops' of 'selling education' to young students
to clear these tests. In the upcoming paragraphs this evil, its consequences and
remedial steps are discussed in detail.
To understand the problem we have to go in the chronological manner:
Entrance Tests: Origin and Aim
In the near past, after considering the fact that Boards of Intermediate and
Secondary Education of various backward regions of Pakistan are 'distributing'
marks instead of awarding, almost all universities came up with the idea of
Entrance Tests, whose aim was to award admissions to the deserving students
only. Their performance in the test combined with their marks decides whether
they are to be admitted in the university or not.
Entrance Test Academies: Origin and Development
The Entrance Test Academies find their origin in the more menacing Tuition
Centres. As the entrance tests are based on the course studied at the college
level, the government and private schools and colleges' teachers run tuition
centres, found it very convenient to start the Entrance Test Preparation classes
in their academies. With the passage of time and selection of some of these
students in universities, these institutions gained popularity. This led to the
present Entrance Test Preparation Academies.
Knowing the origin and the circumstances under which these academies were
created, now we are in position to see through the fog:
Tools used to force Students to join these Institutions:
The following paragraphs throw light on the ways and means of forcing and
attracting students to join these programs:
Unlike its name, the career counselling sessions arranged by these institutions,
have the sole purpose of attracting students to these programs. In these
sessions, by claiming that these tests are very difficult and are held right
after the exams, students are warned of the horrors they will have to face if
they don't join these programs. Besides this, Emotional blackmailing is also
used as a tool in these sessions.
Free Test Preparation for Bright Students:
This may sound strange but bright students are playing an important role in
promoting this test preparation drama. To attract bright students, these
academies offer free preparation for high achievers. Although this seems very
generous of them but when these students get selected in good universities,
basically due to their own pre-existing skills and knowledge, these academies
get a chance to advertise their success as their own and attract more students.
Practice Tests and Teaching Methodology:
On the name of "shortcuts" and "important points", such difficult things are
taught in these institutions, that instead of increasing knowledge, fear is
incorporated in students' minds regarding the entrance tests. Similarly,
practice tests are made so difficult that even the most genius of all students
find them terribly complicated. This is a sales pitch to create a hype of
entrance tests and to attract more students in these programs.
Peer and Parental Pressure:
Peer and parental pressures play important role in forcing students to join
these institutions. The former being persuasive due to its shimmering fun
whereas status consciousness and worry accounts for the latter.
All these methods and sales pitches are being used to attract students in these
Evils that these Programs Hold:
Why these programs shouldn't be allowed to proceed? The answer lies in the evils
these programs hold:
These programs has given a way to businessmen to invest money in something that
is more profitable than any other business. Pakistan being a developing country
has vast majority of youngsters, and a vast majority still includes young
students seeking admissions in professional colleges and universities. This has
made the program a booming industry where education is sold.
The fees of these entrance test preparation programs range from an insanely high
cost of 15,000 to 25,000 Rupees. Considering the factors already discussed
above, students are forced to join these programs and the parents ,in turn, have
to pay these high costs. Majority of the students belong to such class which is
unable to pay these fees and ultimately, their parents end up getting loans or
selling, in many cases, their vehicles and other household items.
Anxiety and Depression:
These test preparation programs as mentioned earlier, right from the start of
the program, take their form of frightening young students, to meet their own
personal ends, and students end up taking these tests on their nerves.
Frightening students is not a way to force them to work hard but is actually a
way to force them to join these institutions. Besides, the nerds who have plenty
of knowledge and skill, just due to lack of confidence which these institutes
impart in them, mess up or in many cases fail their tests.
Students' mind restriction is a serious problem. The entrance tests aims at the
ability of students to think logically, whereas, solving particular questions
restricts one's mind on those particular types of questions only and does not
allow the student to look for all the possibilities. Hence the books these test
preparation academies suggest for practicing does little good to the students
and let the authorities to pocket the money.
Closing these institutions down by force will be unacceptable due to the absence
of any kind of law regarding commercialisation of education in our constitution.
Here are some possible remedial steps that can be taken at the governmental and
Increasing Pays of Teachers:
Teachers in government schools and colleges are paid less and hence are forced
to earn a living using techniques like the test preparation academies. So in
order to stop these teachers from running such programs, their pays should be
Increasing number of Institutions/seats:
The fierce competition, due to a very low number of seats in professional
colleges as compared to the number of applicants, forces students to join test
preparation institutes. According to the latest figures, more than 50,000
students applied for University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore and
National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) in 2012 separately,
whereas their total seats combined are only around 4500! Hence, building new
universities will provide good number of opportunities to all students.
Creating Official Guidance Sources:
Creating an online source for guiding students with all the information
including the test pattern, model tests, past tests, syllabus and tips regarding
the tests of all universities, by the Education Ministry with the collaboration
of the administration of all major universities is a remedy. This method has
already being applied on the CSS exam, that once had a similar problem.
To believe that these tests can be passed only if one is trained from a well
reputed test preparation academy is a foolish thing to think of. One can not
only pass these tests without preparing from these institutes but can achieve
good merit positions too. If one spends the whole two academic years preparing
for the board exams by cramming stuff and hopes to get in a good university with
a two month entrance test preparation, then one is totally off the track.
Conceptual study during the academic year is the best way to pass these tests.
Improving Examination System at Board Level:
If we want the students to change the way they consider 'studying', we must
improve the examination system. Instead of putting the same questions in the
exams over and over again and testing the memory of students, patterns should be
changed to test their grip over the course studied so that they do not have to
go for any test preparation program.
Closing an open bleeding wound with scotch tape to stop the bleeding
temporarily, is not the cure for that cut! The wound needs to be cleaned and
stitched and the cause of that cut needs to be found to avoid any future injury!
Assessing the students again and again at different levels is nothing but
torturing. The education board's examination system should be good enough to
assess students completely. So, instead of helping and letting these
'educationists' ruin our education system, we should deal with them with an iron