Many countries of the world conduct Public Examinations. These examinations are said to play a key role in improving the overall quality and standards of education. Furthermore, these public examinations are basically implemented in determining what goes on in the schools and more specifically in classrooms. In other words, these exams unearth the whole teaching and learning processes in terms of ‘what’ and ‘how’ teachers teach and students learn, and can have an impact on both teaching and learning. Educationists suggest that one of the important aims of such examinations to pillar the teaching and learning process. When these examinations are planned and implemented in such a way that they explore understanding and critical approaches to learning, then ultimately it can be hoped that the learners in schools and other educational institutions would adopt deep approaches to learning.
In the context of Pakistan, there are national level public assessment systems which are accelerating in exploring the current status of education and also to help the systems of education to improve their systems. For instance, Punjab Education Assessment System is one of such systems which are working on it and generating indigenous knowledge for different national and international practitioners and stakeholders of education. If I talk about the context of Gilgit-Baltistan, different districts within their own contexts are working on such examinations systems.
In the recent past, government education department of Baltistan region also went through different attempts for establishing public examinations boards. Though the attempts worked for a few years but were not successfully sustained. However, a few important and radical steps have been taken by the Government Education of Baltistan Region which has attracted the attention of various stakeholders of education in the context.
In the history of the education department of Baltistan, it is the first time when an Examination Cell has been established for the overall monitoring and evaluation of the education system of Baltistan Region at middle school level. This examination cell would probably play its key role in not only making the whole education system of the context uniform but more importantly in raising the bars of students’ learning outcome and upgrading the standards of education. Like the assessment systems of the other provinces of Pakistan, this examination cell can help the schools in developing short and long terms plans for the schools to improve. In the first step towards schools improvement, the Cell can help the education system in developing standardized tests for assessment and evaluation of schools. Such standardized tests can dig out the real status of education in the contexts. Further, reports on these assessments can generate indigenous knowledge for stakeholders and researchers. In addition, these reports can also help the policy makers and other stakeholders of the education of the context to make remedy plans for the improvement of the education. Besides, it can also introduce continuous professional development workshops and courses for the teachers. To accomplish all these goals and tasks, the department has highly trained human resources who have completed their professional development from the well-known educational institutions of Pakistan and the world, that is, the graduates of The Aga Khan University, Institute for Educational Development, Karachi and many other institutions of Pakistan.
The higher authorities of the education department of the region have the vision to make a uniform education system for the whole region. In the first step, the Directorate Baltistan Region has already taken initiatives to make the uniform education system in the region. Medium of instruction has been changed into English from the very beginning of the classes, that is, from class one. Similarly, school curriculum in the whole public education system has also been brought into streamline. In all public schools, specific subjects have been recommended for each class so to make the school curriculum uniform. From these steps, it can be easily predicted that in near future, a uniform assessment and evaluation system is being launched for the whole region as the assessment of a uniform education system is quite easy suitable. Form different media reports, it is also clear that the director education has a future goal to divide the academic year of Grade-V and VIII into two semesters. This innovation will, not only help in making the assessment process better, but it will also improve the overall teaching and learning process.
To sum up, the steps taken by the department of education Baltistan Region are encouraging for the students, parents and the people of the contexts. It is hoped that these steps will soon become actions and the change and innovation process will brighten up the future of the students which is in a real sense, the future of the context.