Confusion surrounds upcoming academic session

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KARACHI: The release of minutes from the provincial School Education and Literacy Department’s steering committee meeting has sparked confusion and raised concerns within the educational community across the province. Students and teachers are now grappling with uncertainty surrounding the curriculum, examination structure, and dates.

The meeting which was led by the caretaker education minister Rana Hussain on September 19, recommended changes to the examination paper pattern for grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 and the scheduling of intermediate annual exams before matriculation with the former assigned the date of April 20, 2024, and the latter to be held on May 17, 2024. In essence, the released minutes discussed alterations to the matriculation and intermediate annual examinations in Sindh, particularly an increase in the proportion of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) in the annual exams to 40 percent, while keeping the remaining 60 percent descriptive with structured questions.

Haider, a student at the Delhi Government Science College, shared his apprehensions regarding the early conduct of exams. “Recently, I came to know from one of my teachers that the steering committee has decided to conduct the intermediate exams before matriculation. I fail to understand how we can be expected to take the examinations so soon when our session has started just a month ago,” questioned Haider.

Similarly, Naeem Khalid, former principal at the Government Degree College Gulistan-e-Jauhar and a member of the Senate of the University of Karachi, felt that the haphazard change in the paper pattern had challenged the teaching techniques employed by teachers. “There is a lot of ambiguity regarding the paper pattern being changed again. Since we have to prepare the students for the examinations well in advance, the proposed changes to the weightage assigned to the MCQ section has left us stressed,” said Khalid.

Notably, a 5-member subcommittee was established during the steering committee meeting led by the Director of School Education Hyderabad Abdul Latif Mughal in the hopes of finalizing the decisions on the curriculum, examination dates and the commencement of the new academic session in 2024.

Members of the subcommittee expressed their surprise during the meeting, questioning why these minutes were released when everything was to be determined within the committee’s scope.

The subcommittee has decided to commence the academic session for 2024 from April 1, aligning it with other provinces. Similarly, the matriculation and intermediate exams will also begin in the first and last weeks of May 2024, respectively. This adjustment aims to prevent immediate closure of secondary schools for matriculation examination centers, allowing students some time to adjust to new classes. The committee also confirmed that no changes would be made to the existing paper pattern, maintaining the weightage of MCQs at 20 percent of examination papers. It was agreed that these recommendations would be presented to the caretaker education minister for further steering committee action or notification in the form of an academic calendar.

In response to these developments, Daily City News  contacted Secretary of School Education Shireen Narejo for clarification. “The minutes had been issued erroneously and should be considered canceled. Corrected minutes will soon be released to resolve the confusion, “announced Narejo, who went on to emphasize that the steering committee has delegated these matters to the subcommittee, which shall formulate final decisions regarding exams, the academic session, and the paper pattern based on its recommendations.

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