CSS screening test – CSS screening test ill-devised move? – Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC)
Lahore: The announcement by the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) that the CSS candidates will have to go through a screening test before appearing in the competitive exams has alarmed the quarters concerned.
The incumbent FPSC chairman who belongs to the police group and was inducted from army in the civil service during the regime of former dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq had forwarded a novel proposal to the government for the approval of the scheme on the sole ground that the move would filter out non-serious candidates. That the number of CSS aspirants was increasing every year, the screening test will facilitate the FPSC to announce the results on time, he had argued. For the purpose, the FPSC authorities have introduced the 200 marks test on multiple choice questions (MCQs) pattern, with 40 per cent marks to pass the test.
The syllabus of the screen test includes English, General Abilities, General Knowledge and Islamiat. In case of non-Muslim candidates, in lieu of Islamiat, their marks obtained in Pakistan Affairs would be doubled.
However, the introduction of the screening test is being criticized on many accounts. Since the announcement of screening test for the CSS exams, there has been a mushroom growth of tuition centers for preparation, creating hardships for the poor/needy candidates in the name of hefty fee which is Rs 5000 as a package. Moreover, by introducing the screening test through MCQs, it is an indirect way to facilitate those candidates who got education from foreign, top institutions, or who did A& O level from to elite educational institutions. The test seems to be discriminatory against poor candidates hailing from remote and underprivileged areas.
To determine seriousness through MCQs is not a true mode of assessment. If a candidate fails to pass the screening test does not mean that he is not serious. Doctors and engineers living in major cities are trained for such tests and would easily excel those living in rural areas with masters degrees in other subjects.
The basic reason for the increase of number of CSS candidates is not non-seriousness but unemployment. It is impossible for a poor graduate to get job of small scales due to Safarish culture whereas it is easy for them to become CSS officers on the basis of merit.
It would create more discrimination among the candidates appearing for screening test when such test is not applicable to the candidates from the armed forces. Moreover, the screening test has already been in vogue in the CSS in the form of intelligence and psychological test, so burdening the students with another test on the pretext of short listing is uncalled for.
Many suggested that the FPSC should focus on the flawless conduct of CSS exams by selecting impeccable and aboveboard paper setters, paper checkers and invigilators and adopting strict secrecy measures to restore the image and credibility of the institution. They urged the prime minister to take notice of this discriminatory scheme against the voiceless candidates.
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