FINE-TUNING THE CHANGE (Editorial April 2016)

JWT editorial

In order to ensure a regular supply of fresh blood to the country’s bureaucracy — rightly called the administrative arm of the government — Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) is assigned the task of selecting the best brains from amongst the country’s youth. This is a delicate task and fulfilling it, adequately and effectively, requires high standards of professionalism on the part of FPSC. But, regrettably, the chronic slackness of the Commission has been, and is still, playing hell with the aspirants, and their aspirations, for a promising future. The most recent evidence of this dereliction can be found in the papers of CSS 2016 exam that have left many downhearted, to say the least.

When the FPSC revised the syllabus for CSS, and Naveed Akram Cheema was appointed at the helm of the Commission, hopes were high that these changes would yield positive results. But, alas, doing the same old same old has been kept on and a piece of conclusive evidence comes in the form of ‘English Précis & Composition’ and ‘Pakistan Affairs’ papers. A reader of JWT, “An Aggrieved Aspirant,” has already pointed out many flaws in the abovementioned papers through a Letter to the Editor published in JWT’s March 2016 issue.

What we, from the platform of JWT, want to highlight are some critical issues.

First of all is the issue of English — Essay and Précis & Composition — papers. A huge majority of candidates fail these very papers as they are left at the mercy of those who mark their papers. Would an examiner who has read and taught literature all through his life be able to give fair marks to a candidate who has written essay on a current affairs topic? There is all likelihood that he won’t be able to do justice. So, why sacrifice a student’s future on the altar of the examiner’s proclivity. Therefore, a better option would be to combine these two papers and set a threshold for passing those just like General Knowledge papers wherein a candidate who secures a minimum of 120 marks gets through. This will help save numerous brilliant, talented people who just fall prey to examiner’s whims.

The second important issue is the inclusion of Urdu in the list of compulsory subjects. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, in its decision dated 8th September 2015, had already ordered: “… (vi) in the competitive examinations at Federal level the recommendations of government bodies noted above (statutory, regulatory and oversight bodies mentioned in point v of the verdict), should be considered by the Government for implementation without unnecessary delay”. But, nothing solid has been done in this regard. To fulfil the requirements of Article 251 of the Constitution of Pakistan and implementing the verdict of the Supreme Court, it is the most opportune time to make Urdu a Compulsory Subject of, at least, 100 marks, if bringing it at par with English i.e. 200 marks seems infeasible at present.

Third is the matter of Screening Test. Every now and then the matter of conducting a Screening Test re-emerges and leaves the candidates dumbfounded. Those preparing for the exam with full concentration get distracted. For the greater benefit of the aspirants and to help them pay full attention to their studies, this must end now. When the FPSC has included General Ability portion in “General Science & Ability,” then what’s the need to screen the candidates separately?

CSS is an exam on which hinge the hopes for a brighter future of thousands of young men and women who have all the vigour to serve their country. Most of them put in their best years while making preparations for this life-changing exam. So, their aspiration must not be killed and everyone should be given a fair chance to chance his/her arm.

The Chairman Federal Public Service Commission must pay due attention to these issues so that the spirited, energetic and vivacious youth of the country that is primed to serve the nation to the best of their abilities may find ample opportunities to achieve their dreams.

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