Even in the midst of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic and the looming threat of a fourth wave, the Sindh Education Department was adamant that it would conduct exams at all costs. Students were not given the extension they were so desperately asking for. This stern decision could have only been justified if affairs were in order. However, SSC examinations started throughout Sindh amid gross mismanagement. Question papers reaching the examination centres with delays — of as many as two hours in many cases — was a rampant complaint on day one. It was rather ironic to see students, who are often taught the importance of punctuality, dangling their watches in agony and protest. Cheating too has been rife. Question papers continue to be leaked on social media and circulated via WhatsApp even before the exam starting.
Education system in the country has been deteriorating rapidly but the problem is particularly dire in Sindh where laws are enacted and decisions are made, in some cases much more than necessary, but implementation remains a huge issue. The concerned officials will blame their dereliction of duties on the pandemic but the virus has merely helped remove the veil that has been masking the hideous face of our education system for decades. Some 20 million children were already labouring to help their families before the pandemic even started. Think about it: why would the lower strata of our society want to waste their money on sending their children to dilapidated schools, learning an outdated syllabus from ghost teachers.
Incapable and thickheaded politicians are to be outright blamed for this. Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani should have personally micromanaged the entire examination process — because, after all, these children are the future of our country — or should have simply given an extension if they themselves were unprepared. This negligence will only add to the immense learning loss that has already taken place. A serious intervention is needed and the right people need to be appointed for the right job.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2021.