NTS betraying candidates in the name of transparency


LAHORE: The National Testing Service (NTS) betrays candidates in the name of transparency as it makes assessment of candidates per instructions of its clients, which proves that the NTS has nothing to do with merit and transparency but only operates to mint money, Pakistan Today has learnt.

The NTS, a non-profit testing organisation, was formed in 2002 to provide services to its clients regarding conducting tests and assessments for admissions, scholarships, recruitments and promotion purposes.

A large number of prime public/private sector colleges and universities have made the NTS test a prerequisite for admission. In addition, the mentioned testing service also conducted assessment tests for recruitment in public and private organisations. The NTS had signed memorandum of understanding with more than 500 different departments, institutes and organisations to provide them services regarding assessing candidates for different purposes.

Talking to this scribe, management at the testing service claimed that it had assessed around 16 million candidates since it was formed, thus proving the system to be transparent and fair. The company website reiterated the claim by mentioning that it followed a system based on transparency, merit, fairness and reliability.

It had been observed that most candidates seeking a job or admission in educational institutes blindly trusted the testing service. However, the information available with Pakistan Today showed an entirely different picture of the NTS which not only exposed the tall claims regarding so called transparency, but also raised many questions on the credibility of the system.

Sources inside the NTS said that the organisation followed an independent process of assessing the candidates and it could easily be influenced by its clients. One source said, “If you hold a key post in some public-sector department and you want to recruit your favorite person, you should not be worried. Advertise the required post through the NTS and inform the management to consider the specific person. The organisation will oblige you by ignoring the criteria mentioned for the job.”

It is pertinent to mention here that this scribe had identified various cases where such candidates have appeared in the test who did not even meet the criteria required for the advertised job.

In one such case, a certain department advertised jobs for grade-9 recruitments for which the age limit was mentioned as 25 years, while an additional five years of age relaxation was also given to suitable candidates. But the NTS also allowed such candidates to sit for the test who exceeded the 30-year age limit.

Surprisingly, documents available with Pakistan Today revealed that candidates over the required age limit were successfully recruited by the mentioned department in blatant violation of its own rules.

Talking to this scribe, the NTS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Sherzada Khan admitted that a person could be obliged on the request of the client, but for this purpose the client must submit a written request. He said that many cases of this nature have been detected where a candidate submitted his/her wrong information to appear in the NTS test.

“The NTS cannot be blamed for this since candidates lying about their age in their resumes should be verified by the organisation that wants to recruit a particular candidate,” he added. Khan also said that sometimes a human error could also help a candidate pass through the system undetected.

Khan also said, “So far, we do not have any system to verify the originality of candidates, however, we would soon start the process of biometric verification of candidates with the help of National Database and Registration Authority.” He admitted that impersonators had in the past sat down for the test, but also said that installing the biometric system would help the testing service in identifying and stopping such candidates from appearing for tests.