Imagine the joy of the student who received full marks in chemistry in his intermediate exams to find that he received 87 marks out of a total of 85 marks! This is the level of accuracy of our Exam boards across all four provinces. It is no wonder then, that intermediate students in all major cities across Pakistan, including Lahore, have been protesting against ‘faulty’ marking of their papers for the past four days, urging Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif to take notice of the issue. As usual, the CM formed an inquiry team to probe the alleged widespread incorrect marking of papers by different education boards of the province.

The Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) Lahore office is known to entertain requests to recheck exam papers, a growing demand considering the irregularities students witness after every result, but all the board officials do is to recount the marks, beating the purpose of demanding a recheck. If an examiner’s past marking is to be evaluated, there is no way to do this. Some scores are too generous, some are too stringent and there is no pattern. This points to the problem with hiring competent examiners to do the job.

Local examination boards – whether they are matriculation or intermediate boards, or professional testing services like the NTS - are excessively inefficient. News reports cite instances of cheating in examination halls every year. Last year in April, cheating was rampant in intermediate board exams of Urdu and Sindhi in different exam centres in the province, and the administration put on blindfolds instead of taking action against the accused. Examiners help out students by providing them helping materials during exams. Moreover, solved papers are being sold at the nearby shops.

The NTS is plagued with similar complaints of unfair marking, even though the tests are supposed to be checked electronically. The system has major loopholes as the answer key released earlier and the actual result of the exam takers differs by large margins. Low remuneration of most of the qualified teachers contributes largely towards this conundrum that the students are in. Their future hangs in the balance and those responsible for giving the verdict, want to get over with the tedious task of actually reading the paper.

The education boards across the country need a major upheaval. Everyone cannot afford private schools and colleges and the state alternative is basically in tatters. Young people are discouraged from education due to false results, cheating, corrupt management, unprofessional teachers, outdated curriculums, and the list goes on. The result is that students are on the streets trying to secure for themselves what should have been assured to them in their classrooms.