Feb 16, 2009

Paper-checking system needs improvement

LAHOREMARKING of papers is certainly a job of great responsibility as a minor mistake on the part of the paper-checker (sub-examiner) can deprive a student of his/ her right, benefiting the other.It is generally observed that students do apply for rechecking after examinations if they are not satisfied with their results. A high profile case over a similar issue is being heard in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) these days.One factor, which seriously needs to be taken up by the authorities concerned, is meager remuneration paid to the sub-examiners, which no doubt can affect their performance in such an important task. According to officials of the education boards, teachers have been showing great reluctance in performing duties as sub-examiners because of a meager remuneration. For the last many years there has not been substantial increase in remuneration, paid to the sub-examiners, and at present Rs14 and Rs18 are being paid to sub-examiners for each answer book at matriculation and intermediate level respectively.In the wake of low remuneration, it is obvious that the sub-examiners try to mark the maximum number of answer-sheets to generate maximum money. This raises a question as how they can ensure marking with such a state of mind.Another important issue which the authorities concerned should deal with is related to inexperienced paper-checkers who are “used” by the boards to fill the gap created by the experienced ones.Apart from teachers of government educational institutions those teaching at private educational institutions are also eligible to be appointed as sub-examiners. Though the boards have specific rules in this regard yet the possibility of having inexperienced and immature sub-examiners cannot be ruled out.There is also a dire need of providing comfortable environment to paper-checkers. A lot depends on the environment of the duty place as an uncomfortable place could also affect the performance of sub-examiners. It is important to mention here that boards in Punjab follow centre-based marking system in which sub-examiners had to visit the boards to perform their duty. The Controller of Examinations at the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE), Lahore, Prof Manzoorul Hassan Niazi, agreeing that teachers are reluctant to be sub-examiners, urges the government to declare it mandatory for teachers to perform duty as sub-examiners.“We do face shortage of sub-examiners,” he said while replying to a question, adding: “In such circumstances, the task is divided among the available workforce to meet the deadline set for result announcement.”Mr Niazi further said teachers were reluctant to perform duty as sub-examiners because of low remuneration. To a question, he said heavy penalties, including disqualification from the duty, were imposed on sub-examiners for mistakes, adding that it was also one of the reasons that teachers were reluctant to opt for paper-checking.Chairman BISE, Gujranwala, Muhammad Akram Chaudhry, commenting over the issue, also agreed that boards were facing shortage of sub-examiners because of low remuneration.He said the Punjab Board Committee of Chairmen (PBCC) had recommended increase in remuneration of sub-examiners and other supervisory staff last year but no final decision had been made by the government so far.The academic circles believe that marking of papers should be taken as a very serious job and measures should be taken to ensure that sub-examiners perform their duties with carefulness and commitment.

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