The Baloch Hal Editorial
By Malik Siraj Akbar
In a criminal negligence of professional responsibility, some officials at the in Balochistan Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education conspired to leak a few question papers of the matriculation examination 24 hours prior to the scheduled examination. That said, candidates aspiring to take the class 10th examination could easily purchase the next day’s question paper at a throwaway price from local bookstore and photocopy shops.
With too little damage-control done, more question papers were reported to be available in the market before the scheduled tests. Such brazen leakage of top educational secretes was surely not surprising in the country’s least educated province but it was indeed very depressing.
The leakage of question papers clearly indicated the prevailing corruption in the education department where most appointments are not made on merit but on the basis of political loyalties. The latest depressing episode was the reminiscent of a similar incident from the past when the media reported the availability of unchecked answer sheets of Islamic Studies in a number of bread shops locally known as Thandor in the provincial capital of Balochistan. If this is to be taken as the level of “seriousness” demonstrated by the officials in the provincial capital then one must be kidding by complaining about the poor state of education in the interior Balochistan. Likewise, the debate over the presence of ghost schools in Balochistan also fails to gain ample attention when such grave negligence of official duty is seen from the officials on the top level. Although a so-called inquiry was initiated in the matter of the sale of answer sheets, the findings were, as usual, never made public. The people of Balochistan never knew who the black sheep in the education department were who were providing a safe heaven for cheaters among our coming generation. These practices show that there is sufficient patronage of cheating culture in Balochsitan by the big guns within the education department.
What caused the leakage of not one but several question papers in this year’s metric examinations? No one is willing to accept responsibility among the officials in the Balochistan Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education for this criminal act. As always, the government has constituted an inquiry into the matter. Not everyone is hopeful about the outcome of the committee’s findings. There are as many committees operating as many crimes are reported. While the crimes successfully take place, the committee members’ keep scratching their heads for years. However, there is an urgent need to take this matter seriously and punish the elements responsible for the leakage of question papers ahead of examination. Surely, those who did it got some bribe in return and were the people who violated the oath they had taken while assuming their duty at this primer government institution.
There has been wide ranging condemnation of his startling development across Balochistan. Student’s bodies, often unfairly criticised for playing politics, have come out to condemn what they widely billed as a anti-education happening. The issue has also been raised on the floor of the Balochistan Assembly during its current session. Sadly, the education minister, Tahir Mehmood, did not sound apologetic when the issue was mentioned by Jaffar Khan Mandokhel, a senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Quaid-e-Azam. Instead, the education minister accused Mr. Mandokhel of meddling into the affairs of the education department. This was a very unreasonable way of mixing politics with education by putting the blame on the members of the legislative assembly from different political parties.
The Balochistan government is equally responsible for the poor state of education in Balochistan. It was a very unwise decision to appoint Tahir Mehmood as the new education minister for the sole invalid reason that his brother, late Shafiq Ahmed Khan, who held the same office before his assassination, could at best be appreciated for his services by offering this key ministry to the brother of the slain minister. It was once again a political decision which was likely to have negative implications on the future of the education department in Balochistan. The chief minister should have granted this highly important portfolio to a more qualified and experienced minister.
Unfortunately, sincere efforts were never taken on the official level to curb the culture of cheating in Balochistan. For instance, a number of key professors and lecturers in Balochistan are openly involved in producing literature like the infamous Lucky Series that entice the students to cheat during examinations. These booklets are prepared by government professors keeping in consideration the expected (or the exact) questions that are posed during examinations. Thus, these books sell like hot cakes and bring hefty profits to the professors. That said, cheating culture in the education department of Balochistan is backed by an influential mafia that needs to be exposed and punished without any delay.