The standard of public education in Pakistan has not been up to the mark in comparison with other developing countries.
A very less proportion of GDP is allocated for public education in the country each year adding to the adversities of public educational institutions.
Following the global acceptance of standardized testing system, Pakistan has also adopted such testing mechanisms for better evaluation of students at various levels and for a range of positions to be filled based on required capabilities. These standardized tests include Board examinations, National Testing System (NTS), Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) tests, etc.
The most important benefit that can be derived from standardized testing system is accountability of teachers and students involved in the process. Students are generally taught according to a pre-planned syllabus for these tests and can later be questioned regarding any possible discrepancies.
By doing so, the fault lines can easily be traced that will eventually help concerned authorities to intervene for appropriate solutions. Uniformity in testing tools and solid knowledge of what and when to teach saves enough time of supervisors to convene and makes the overall process quite manageable.
Another advantage of standardized testing system is the idea that it provides to parents and institutions to assess and compare their performances with other students and institutions respectively.
It also offers the insight to look at overall performance of a certain region like a province with respect to other provinces.
Standardized testing system also provides a broader perspective to gauge and relate with other countries at certain points in time.
Moreover standardized testing system in Pakistan is economically affordable for almost every individual particularly the poor communities.
Easy access and involvement of marginalized populations to prosper through lenient and less expensive processes act as efficient platforms for concerned talented pool to develop and show their worth. These less costly standardized tests eventually assist to lessen the differential between poor and rich candidates associated with public education.
The potential drawback of standardized testing system is its limitation to a specific syllabus for a particular test or subject.
Teaching students focusing primarily on material that gets good scores ignores holistic and thorough understanding of knowledge about any subject.
Broader perspectives regarding various subjects enlightening the students is negated for the sole purpose to train individuals for high scores which subsequently degrades the purpose of learning. Standardized tests conducted in early years of students such as in grade 5 fail to measure or reflect the potential of a student.
They only measure a small subset of knowledge a student is able to retain or what he is tested on at the time of the testing.
Another disadvantage that comes along these testing processes is redundancy in the testing instruments which had been following for years in a likely manner. Repetition of similar pattern over longer periods strengthens streamlining of student’s mindset to stick to an invariable process of learning ending up with inadequate knowledge and resolve to think out of the box.
These shortcomings can be considered as possible reasons for not having sufficient amount of knowledge and motivation for new explorations. These issues can be justified by the repetitive pattern of papers designed by different provincial boards and National Testing System (NTS) for the last many years.
Public education sector in Pakistan had always proved itself unable to properly address check and balance issues during the course of conducting these standardized tests in the country. Almost every examination board had seen to be suffering from cheating and use of unfair means during these tests.
Apart from use of inappropriate ways to score high in these exams, fair and timely paper checking has also been a recurrent problem over the years. In addition Organizations, Departments and Governments exploit the pattern of testing in their favor to gain more funding from aid organizations.
Thus, it transforms into a race for more funds instead of achieving end objectives and holistic goals. This might be referred as goals displacement. .
Furthermore limited financial resources of public education system in Pakistan has crippled the sector to prosper and develop institutionally and help set its objectives to compete with other developing counterparts of the world. Beside such constraints, effective political involvement in this sector has proved disastrous for institutional development and fair administration of underlying activities.
The presence of said problems helped favoritism to actively permeate the sector spoiling the main purpose of establishing standardized testing system.
Therefore, the socio-political situation developed over the years in the country had been a problematic factor in realizing true benefits of standardized testing system in Pakistan particularly in public sector education system.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not represent ARY policies or opinion.