Deadlock on BMC admissions
The deadlock over the new admissions at Balochistan’s sole medical college, the Bolan Medical College (BMC), for the academic year of 2008-2009 MBBS/ BDS classes has entered its second week without making any headway in the declaration of the names of successful students who passed what now appears to be a ‘controversial entry test’ last week. Hundreds of students from all over Balochistan eagerly await their entry in the coveted medical college in the midst of a tug of war between the BMC and Bitsoft, an information technology consultancy firm which conducted the tests with the facilitation of the Quetta-based Balochistan Information Technology (BIT) on September 30th in Quetta.
Controversy began at BMC when a number of students applying for the medical college smelled irregularities in the admission process due to alleged delay in the declaration of the results. While the BMC entry tests had been conducted in the past by the National Testing Service (NTS) for the past five years, the premier testing agency did not show any interest to do the job again this year. Though advertisements were published in the leading national newspapers inviting bids from companies interested in conducing entry tests at BMC, none except one, the Bitsoft, turned up demonstrating its interest to accomplish the task.
As a rule, the BMC management had ask Bitsoft to conduct the tests which took place amicably and 1500 students from all over Balochistan attempted the papers. Soon, the names of the successful candidates were displayed online with the names of the districts and marks they had obtained on the official website of the Bitsoft.
Yet, the BMC management had to cancel the tests when some candidates protested over the alleged delay in the declaration of the result on the same day. They accused the BMC authorities of being involved in irregularities and trying to accommodate the scions of some influential people in the college by applying delay tactics.
“When the NTS [National Testing Service] did not turn up, we had to hire the Bitsoft services for conducting the test as a Supreme Court ruling bounds all medical colleges to conduct the pre-entry tests 13 days after the declaration of the FSC result,” Dr. Muhammad Umar Baloch, the Principal of BMC, told me today in his office, “it was verbally agreed that the result would be announced four hours after it is conducted while in written we were promised that the result would be announced on the same day when the tests are conducted.”
Dr. Baloch could not resist the public pressure which questioned the delay in the announcement of the result. Hence he declared null and void the results the Bitsoft and BIT had subsequently displayed on their official website.
“ BIT defamed my college and myself,” regrets Dr. Baloch, who informed that he had written in black and white to the BIT big wigs that they would be taken to court in the wake of the delay they observed in the declaration of the result.
On his part, Dr. Kamil Shahzad, the director of Bitsoft, rejected all the charges regarding the late declaration of the results and regretted that the BMC management had not even taken them into confidence while canceling the tests. I met him at his Quetta office on Zargoon Road today soon after my meeting with Dr. Umar Baloch.
“ No one, including the students and the BMC officials, opposed the testing methods when we conducted the tests,” he said, adding that the working deal they had brokered with the BMC did not entitle the BMC principal to revoke the test. “Neither we were consulted by the BMC officials while canceling the tests nor have we been officially notified up till now as on what grounds the tests were cancelled.
A copy of the eight-point working deal signed by the principal of the BMC and obtained by this blogger shows that no hard and fast deadline had been given to the Bitsoft for the declaration of the result. “ The result of the pre-entry test shall be prepared on the same day of the test and the copies of the result and answer sheet of all candidates will be handed over to the college,” reads the working deal. In addition, the deal promised that Bitsoft would be responsible to take the entry test of 1000 candidates and 50% of the payment would be made by the BMC to the IT firm in advance for taking the entry test.
“The BMC management backtracked from its promise and asked us to take the test of 1500 students. Yet, we have not been paid a single penny in return of the test we conducted despite a written agreement that 50% would be paid in advance. Yet, we managed to bring the result out on time. How can they still raise fingers on us,” asks Urwa Javed, regional director of Bitsoft.
The argument does not impress Dr. Umar who says the results being shown by BIT on its website now does not have any legal status and it would be better for the students not to consider themselves as successful or failed on the basis of the BIT-administered shown online. “As per the official rule, we have floated advertisements in the newspapers again seeking bids from companies that are interested in arranging the test,” he said.
In the meanwhile, a group of students who were recently announced successful by the BIT has sought the assistance of the federal government and upper courts to take notice of the alleged mismanagement of the BMC big guns in the fresh admissions.
For instance, Habitant Bashir Rind, who was declared successful by the BIT in the premedical test under roll number 1039 from Kech District, alleges that some of the candidates and the children of a few influential people, who could not qualify for the medical test, rejected the results and maintained that the tests had taken place amid mismanagement. Therefore, they had subsequently sought the cancellation of the freshly announced results for the seats of the Bolan Medical College (BMC), a demand before which the BMC principal allegedly surrendered.
“It is surprising that no one raised objections towards the procedure of the entry tests while they were taking place. Objections rose for obvious reasons once the official results were announced on the official website of the Balochistan Institute for Technology,” said Habitant.
He added, “It is weird that the Principal, in the first place, had said that the results were being cancelled due to ‘unavoidable circumstances’ but he, in later on, went on to say that the results had lost their significance due to the delay observed in their declaration. We fear that attempts are being made to accommodate some failed and incompetent students at the medical college on the cost of more deserving candidates but with weaker political and financial backing,” he charged.
The newly announced successful BMC student have now appealed to the governor of Balochistan Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, chief minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani to take notice of the alleged irregularities taking place in the sole medical college of the province only to create space for some failed candidates who come from influential families.
Habitat Khan also said that he would move the Balochistan High Court against the BMC principal due to the later’s alleged involvement in favoritism and nepotism to certain students.
“The [BMC] principal is making fun of the hard working, poor and diligent students who have burnt mid nigh oil to clear the pre-entry test at the BMC. We know he is trying to favor certain students and such actions would be challenged in the court,” he warned.
Dr. Baloch, the principal, said students like Khan had the right to express their anguish but the BMC management would not compromise on its high standards and would always opt for unambiguous means of entry tests at the sole medical college of the province. “Students should forget the previous entry test now and start preparing for the new one,” he recommended, adding that the date for a new entry test would be announced once the BMC gets a firm agreeing to conduct the entry test.
Despite repeated efforts, no official from National Testing Service (NTS) was available to speak to Daily Times in order to give reasons for its lack of interest in conducting this year’s pre-entry tests at BMC, a college NTS mentions as its ‘partners’ on its official website.