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Ameena Saiyid thinks we need to change Pakistan’s exam system


We need to change Pakistan’s exam system, believes Ameena Saiyid, the founder of the ADAB Festival and former OUP Pakistan managing director.

She said cheating in exams won’t make your life easier, it’ll do the exact opposite. That’s why we need change starting from the lowest level.

Saiyid spoke to SAMAA TV on its show Naya Din on Friday about how cheating isn’t the only problem in Pakistan’s exam system.

“‘Naql’ literally means to copy what’s in the book,” she said and that’s what examiners want from students. In Matric or class nine exams, the examiners want students to reproduce exactly what’s written in the textbook board books. Giving original answers, even if they’re right, will result in them failing, she said.

It’s to see how much you have rote learned, she added. That makes it easy to cheat. You bring the book in any form and copy it out, she said.

“But no question has just one answer. We should encourage original, well thought about answers,” she said. That’s why we need to change the system.

Don’t base exams on a book, base it on curriculum, she said. Saiyid suggested that multiple textbooks be used at each school.

When students go to college they find that there is corruption and cheating there too. That’s why Saiyid believes the issue is not limited to copying.

There is corruption on every level, she said. Saiyid mentioned cases of parents going and bribing test officials to raise their children’s marks.

Universities all have their own tests now and don’t give admission based on school results, she said, adding that those marks no longer have any credibility.

She also criticised the system of exams at preschool and class one-level and said it’s wrong. These are summative assessments but we should have formative assessments, she said. Test students by asking them questions instead and you’ll be able to tell if the child is progressing or not, she advised.

By teaching students to cheat, you aren’t doing them any favours, believed Saiyid. “One day they’ll be caught and their career will be ruined.”

It’s an injustice with the children, she said. They may benefit from this in the short-term but in the long-term they won’t, she said.

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