By Abdul Ali
Feeling some cracks and crevices in our existing approach toward education and its output, sharp decline in quality of education and abysmally low inclination toward CSS, prompted Ghulkin youth to arrange a series of informal discussion sessions with aspirants for competitive examination. The discussants dilated upon subject selection with individual’s aptitude, preferred subject combinations and ways to make up short-comings.
The prestige and standard of this examination are challenging and require rigorous and sustained preparation. The candidate is required to appear in six compulsory and six optional papers of 100 marks each. A candidate needs to score aggregate of 50% marks to qualify the written examination, is then followed by a medical examination, a psychological assessment and viva voce, an oral examination of 300 marks, where minimum qualifying marks is 100. Final list of candidates is drawn based on their aggregate score and allocations made according to available seats, toppers have a chance to get the department of their choice. The officers are slotted into 12 groups — Commerce and Trade, Customs and Excise, District Management Group, Foreign Service of Pakistan, Income Tax, Information Group, Military Land and Cantonments, Office Management, Pakistan Audit and Accounts Service, Police Service of Pakistan, Postal Group and Railways Group.
On the average over 9000 thousands aspirants appear in the examination and hardly 9% get through its written part and modicum 3% get to their desired position. FPSC reports decline in success rate from 30% to 2.09% in between 2003 to 2012; these atrophying results are nothing but poor reflection on our state of education. It complains “answers were neither proper nor precise”.
Isn’t it a dilemma with our youth, of lamenting the worsening unemployment level, whilst the 4 per cent quota of bureaucracy for northern areas; consecutively, lies vacant or are filled from other province? Most of adults earn their master’s degree from universities, go back to their villages and get wasted their life in disguised and inconvenient jobs. Doubtless most of rural population are economically fragile and had to take care of their immediate needs, which blinds them of further cashing in on opportunities for bright career. Such aggravation has trickledown effect.
GB seeking some semblance of provincial status, provincial civil service examination or PMS has also come to stay; often giving opportunity for those believing in rewarding public service through competitiveness. Given the unemployment and insecurity of jobs in private sector, the bureaucratic set up of the state is another attractive avenue for these intellectuals to put their fertile minds to good use.
The British imperial system introduced Indian Civil Service (ICS) for administration of state affair by local crème de la crème. The same pattern remained intact until 1973 in form of Civil Service Pakistan (CSP). Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto restructured the civil service, forced 1300 officers’ premature retirement by removing officers’ protection from Act of 1973. He made promotions subjected to political whims, giving it another nomenclature_ Central Superior Service (CSS). Zia- Ul-Haq tinkered with it by restoring its previous civil-military balance, but didn’t restore the CSP’s prerogative of policy making. Aside from whirlpool of corruption, we are drowning into, a lot bunch of officers from this cadre don’t compromise their integrity.
Father of the nation said to civil servant,” that you should not be influenced by any political pressure, by any political party or individual politician. If you want to raise the prestige and greatness of Pakistan, you must not fall a victim to any pressure, but do your duty as servants to the people and the State, fearlessly and honestly. Service is the backbone of the State. Governments are formed, governments are defeated, and prime ministers come and go. Ministers come and go, but you stay on, and, therefore, there is a very great responsibility placed on your shoulders”.
What these adults need is timely and rightly needed guidance, as how to make best use of their time and energy. How to access to the right kind of preparatory material and get to must read books. Notwithstanding success hinges on self-help, the needed aptitude and will to go an extra mile .Burning mid night oil, longer sitting stamina and zest for knowledge accumulation is good success recipe. Orienting oneself to learning through teaching is safest method to climb the success ladder for mediocre candidates. Given the closed economy at local level and sense of alienation or exploitation at state level (with Punjab heavy quota of 50%), the burcreautic machinery-“the wheels on which the engine of the state has to move,” should be powered mainly by local people. Women have a 10 per cent reserved seats, with rising female literacy level in the area, their participation should be encouraged.
The language is an issue, as it has been since the inception of competitive examination for students having their schooling from state-run schools and colleges. Candidates need to answer in English, although the Islamiat paper can also be answered in Urdu. Low and inferior quality of English language writing skills adversely affects candidates’ ability to answer questions effectively. Candidates’ inclination to rote-learn and superficial understanding of the subject belittles their analytic skills. Contrary to ready-made answers in the prevailing system of education, candidates in this examination are required to answer questions that require serious inquiry, knowledge and analysis. Subjects of South Asian History, history of USA, Public Administration, IR, Political Science, and Journalism were favored for making up English language skills. Candidates, for an otherwise high scoring science subjects like Mathematics and Physics were found non-existent.
The discussion mulled over grey areas like lack of career and planning, poor grasp on conceptual study of natural science subjects like mathematics, physics, bio-chemistry or even accounting. Poor teaching and lack of interest in selection of subjects on the part of teachers and students respectively from ab initio were noticeable concerns of attendees, casting further gloom on career. “Though it concluded; comprehending course contours, study-time management, and revision of core recommended books will place the examinees’ name higher on the merit list”.
The writer is an ACMA.