The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government’s education department has officially toed onto a strange line in regards to the poor performance of students enrolled in government schools in the recent secondary school certificate examinations: that the underwhelming results are because of the government’s crackdown on cheating in government schools.
The statement came as part of an official contention made by the KP government in the Peshawar High Court (PHC) when the Additional Secretary of Development, Muhammad Arshad, had said “since cheating has been checked in the examinations at the government schools, therefore, the students could not perform well.”
It is interesting to note that the argument made by the additional secretary seems to be actually what the PTI lead education department is pushing given that the Education Minster, Atif Khan, too had corroborated a similar claim soon after the matriculation results for KP had come out.
The statement was part of court documents dated from July 18, but attested and made available to Pakistan Today on Monday. The documents were part of an order the Peshawar High Court had made. The court in its order has asked the KP Primary and Secondary Education department to submit a thorough report on the reasons behind the poor academic performance of government schools in the secondary certificate examinations.
The claim made by the PTI government is all the more confusing given that the performance of students in government schools is not a general trend, but rather not a single student of government schools had achieved a significant ranking compared to those students enrolled in private schools of the province.
Moreover, the court has also extended their order asking the education department to make an inquiry into the matter, saying that the detailed report must also include information on the provision of basic facilities to students by the KP government. The PHC has declared this to be a crucial point which is one of the primary responsibilities of the education department. And while the defence has argued that the provincial government has allocated significant funds for such things as boundary walls and other basic facilities, the court feels there is a need for the government to prove these in their report.
It seems as if the court has noticed that for all the noise the PTI government has made over their performance, they do not have much to show for. The bench quite clearly made an observation in their order that it was unfortunate the improvement claimed by the government did not show despite the (supposed) spending of billions of rupees. It was also questioned whether the education department was holding accountable the departments and people responsible for the poor academic performance of govt schools. This left up in the clouds whether the show cause notices and high level meetings coming from the office of Education Minister Atif Khan after the results had actually achieved anything.
The bench was also critical of the government boasting about the 100,000 students switching from private to public schools, saying this was no great feat as parents did so because of the lower fees and that it was redundant, and maybe even counterproductive, if it was at the expense of quality education.
The court it seems, however, too was simultaneously quite humored by the claims of the additional secretary regarding the co-relation between cheating and good academic performance. Not generally a place known for its particular humor or joviality, even the court could not help but see the lighter side of the claim going so far as to say “we are rather amused with the contention of the worthy Addl: Secretary Development.”
It will have to be seen what results the education department’s report will render on 13 September when the court has ordered it submitted, and whether the department will fare any better than the students of the schools they are responsible for.