Entry test probe body dissolved
KABUL (PAN): The Meshrano Jirga on Sunday decided to abolish a commission, including members of parliamentary panels, civil society groups and higher education ministry, to probe results of a recent university entry test.
On Saturday, the lower house created the commission, days after a string of protests by students in Kabul and other parts of the country against what they called widespread anomalies in the entry test. They staged demonstrations for a review of the results.
Higher Education Minister Obaidullah Obaid was summoned to the Senate to answer members’ queries on the subject. Some of the senators slammed the results as full of glaring fraud.
A public representative from Farah province, Gul Ahmad Azami, said: “One candidate, who has been granted admission to the medical faculty, has given me an application for admission to the faculty of literature.”
Azami wondered how a student who was unable to study the medical subject could qualify the test. Both government and private educational institutes were haunted by ethnic and linguistic biases that the ministry must eliminate, he stressed.
Another lawmaker from Kunar province, Rafiullah Haideri, said 98 students from Kabul and 17 from Nangarhar had secured more than 300 marks in the entry test. But over 700 candidates from Bamyan and Daikundi found their way to faculties of their choice.
The senator added: “We aren’t biased against anyone. But the question is why a large number of students from one particular province have been given such high marks…No one’s right should be usurped.”
How students of a province where there were few professional teachers could compete with their peers from provinces that had trained teaching staff, Haideri asked, while calling for a probe body that was in no way influenced by the ministry concerned.
As many MPs faulted the entry test, others said the successful candidates had found their way to good universities because of their hard work and ability.
But the minister replied that special machines were used to check answer sheets, something that minimised chances of irregularities. Neither question papers nor answer sheets had been leaked, he insisted.
In order to ensure transparency in the exams at the provincial level, no official had been allowed to conduct invigilation duty in his/her home province, Obaid said.
Obaid said 600 individuals, arrested for trying to commit fraud in the test, had been handed over to judicial authorities. But he would not say whether the detainees were employees of the ministry or students.
MPs and civil society leaders should jointly investigate the results and the fraudsters brought to justice the minister suggested, saying the authorities concerned had been instructed to probe candidates’ complaints.
Male students with 250 marks and females with 230 marks could appeal to the ministry for considering them for university admission. “This is the only way for us to resolve their problem.”
Senate Chairman Fazal Hadi Muslimyar ruled the probe committee should be replaced by an independent body to keep intact the credibility of the process. He also called for a judicial investigation into anomalous results at the provincial level.
A majority of members raised their green cards in support of the chairman’s decision. “There has been fraud in the entry test and those ignoring this fact are traitors,” Muslimyar concluded.
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