Educational emergency in Balochistan has been widely criticized for being nothing more than a political gimmick. The Intermediate result which was announced earlier this month, further reaffirms the belief that educational emergency has failed to improve education in the restive province of Balochistan.

26,883 candidates from all over the province took Intermediate exams. Only 7,710 of them passed. More than 71 percent of the candidates failed the exams. This was nothing less than a shock for not only the students but people in general. As a natural reaction, over 3,000 students protested outside the office of Balochistan Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BBISE). Protests turned violent and Police thrashed the students and arrested over 40 of them. After the protests, Balochistan government was left with no choice but to form a committee that would probe the dubious result.

So far plenty of irregularities have been discovered. Marks of over 500 students were inaccurate on the website. BBISE quickly fixed the problem and termed it an error in the website and not in its marking system. The students then demanded that all the papers be rechecked, but BBISE has rejected this demand and announced to take action on individual applications of candidates in the next seven days only.

This is a very serious issue, because failure in Intermediate means that the students can’t get admission in any university or medical college. Even if the result is proved to be inaccurate then by that time admission period in universities would have passed. An academic year of the students would be wasted in any case.

There are two main reasons for the ongoing Intermediate result fiasco in Balochistan. First is the inherent problems in the paper marking and coding system of BBISE. BBISE is the only higher secondary school board in the province. It relies on an old fashioned bureaucratic structure where excellence in the operations is an after-thought. Most of the employees are recruited on the basis of nepotism and hence they are incompetent to do their jobs properly. This naturally results in irregularities in exams and results on regular basis. In the past it was blamed that candidates could buy marks by bribing the BBISE officials. The unexpected Intermediate result this year hints towards an obsolete and corrupt structure of BBISE that is not overhauled due to political vested interests of coalition partners of the Balochistan government.

The second reason for the unexpected result can possibly be that students were not allowed to cheat in exams this year. As a part of so-called educational emergency campaign, Balochistan government launched a, much hyped, campaign to curb cheating in Intermediate exams in the beginning of this year. However, this campaign was not backed by imparting quality education. So, when students are deprived of the opportunity to get quality education, and they are not allowed to cheat either, they will obviously fail. Perhaps, that’s the only plausible reason for the failure of over 71 percent of the candidates in Intermediate exams.

Whether the result of the failed students is accurate or not, the academic year of those students has been wasted and there is nothing that can be done. However, there are certain steps which can be taken to ensure that similar fiascos are not repeated.

The first thing that needs to be done is to restructure BBISE. All the employees who have been appointed based on nepotism, which is not hard to detect, should be sacked. Question paper designing mechanism and paper marking systems need to be completely restructured and any possible loopholes in the system must be eliminated altogether. Hiring a team of few experienced educationists can do the job for Balochistan government only if mafias involved in corruption at BBISE allow them to work.

The second thing that must be done is to establish new educational boards in Balochistan. It would be surprising for many to know that there is only one educational board in the province, which is situated in Quetta. This single board manages exams in Intermediate and Matriculation all over Balochistan, which is nearly half of Pakistan. On the other hand, there are eight educational boards in Punjab, six in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa each. The government has announced two new boards for the last many years, but there is no progress on ground. Constructing buildings is the favorite vocation of every government because it involves commissions and kickbacks. The government should not only construct buildings for new boards but also make them fully functional on an urgent basis.

The third, and most important, recommendation would be that Balochistan government should immediately drop the idea of using educational emergency as a political gimmick. When efforts to improve education are depoliticized, it will result in effective change. Only then disasters like the current Intermediate result will be avoided.