ISLAMABAD: The Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) has decided to introduce a screening test for candidates appearing in the Central Superior Services (CSS) examination.
As per its earlier announcement, the screening test will be of three hours, based on multiple choice questions, and will carry 200 marks. It would comprise English vocabulary and grammar, general knowledge and Islamiat. Only candidates qualifying the test would be allowed to appear in the CSS exam.
“We are going to place this proposal before the cabinet meeting for a final approval,” Secretary Establishment Division Nadeem Hassan Asif told the Senate standing committee on cabinet secretariat on Monday.
He, however, did not clarify if the proposal was based on the 2013 announcement or there were some changes to the pattern of the screening test.
If approved, only candidates passing the screening test would be allowed to appear in CSS exam
He said the proposal had been presented to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who directed the authorities concerned to make it a part of the agenda item of the cabinet meeting.
“We are hopeful that the proposal will be approved in the cabinet meeting soon. I’m in touch with the secretary cabinet to include the proposal in the agenda of the meeting.”
Later, in reply to a question by Dawn about the Planning Commission’s reported proposal for making 16 years education mandatory for the CSS examination, Mr Arif said: “I think that proposal has not been presented at any forum so far and is not a part of this proposal which is going to be presented before the cabinet.”
In its annual report 2013, the FPSC stated that it had forwarded the screening test proposal to the federal government on June 28, 2013. However, so far the proposal could not get the government’s attention.
Briefing the standing committee, which met under the chairmanship of Senator Mohammad Talha Mehmood, Secretary FPSC Haseeb Athar and the secretary establishment said the commission had to do a lot of work for selecting the best candidates for the interview.
“We have to go through the papers of thousands of candidates. Roughly, out of 25,000 candidates only around 1,000 qualify for the interview,” said the secretary establishment.
Both the officers told the committee that if approved the screening test would help filter out only the potential candidates and reduce the workloads of the examiners.
The secretary FPSC also briefed the committee about steps being taken, or which are required to be taken, for further strengthening of the commission. He said the FPSC had planned to construct its own four examination centres.
The annual report 2013 had also stated that the number of applicants for the competitive examination was increasing.
“It has increased from 9,056 applicants in 2009 to 24,640 applicants in 2014, a growth of 172pc. The number of candidates actually appearing in the examination has increased from 5,707 in 2009 to 13,169 in 2014, a growth of 131pc.”
The report added that the increase was leading to the delay in the completion of the examination process, which was taking 18 months, compromising on the objectivity in assessing the question papers.
The standing committee also discussed the issue of daily-wage teachers, who have been staging sit-ins for the last 70 days for the regularisation of their services and payment of salaries. The FDE told the committee that the salaries of all the daily-wage employees had been released while the regularisation of their services was under the consideration of a committee headed by Secretary FPSC Haseeb Athar.
However, a representative of the daily-wage teachers challenged the stance of the FDE and said according to its terms and references, the committee was not mandated to take up their cases.
Additional secretary CADD Qaisar Majeed Malik assured the committee that his ministry would take steps to empower the committee to also hear the cases of daily-wage teaching and non-teaching staff.
Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2016