SAHE, in collaboration with the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) Peshawar, held a dialogue on ‘Reforming secondary school examinations: Lessons from Khyber Pakthunkhwa (KP) and a reflection on best practices’. The event was held at BISE Peshawar and the attendees included key stakeholders in the education sector from across KP, including the province’s BISE chairmen, representatives from the Provincial Institute of Teacher Education (PITE), the Directorate of Curriculum and Teacher Education (DCTE), the KP Textbook Board and the KP Education Sector Programme (KESP) 2.
The event provided an overview of the reform efforts underway in secondary examinations in KP, followed by a discussion of best practices in assessments, from test design to use of results, and was supplemented by findings of SAHE’s report, Education Monitor: Assessment Systems in Pakistan. This report describes assessment systems in Pakistan and highlights issues related to the quality, effectiveness and use of assessments in place.
The dialogue began with Dr. Shafi Afridi, Chairman of BISE Peshawar, providing an overview of the steps that have been taken in the last couple of years to modernize the secondary examinations of BISE Peshawar. He also mentioned changes taking place across the province, including the centralization of certain assessment processes such as item design in Peshawar BISE, and the forthcoming distribution of model papers, based on student learning outcomes rather than rote memorization of textbooks, in all schools in the province. Dr. Afridi noted that the changes that have taken place so far are promising, but plenty of challenges need to be tackled to ensure that reform is authentic and long-lasting, including the dearth of technical expertise and the need for a comprehensive assessment policy that enjoys legislative cover.
Following Dr. Afridi’s remarks, presentations were given to outline the objectives of KESP 2, specifically with regard to assessment reform, and to provide an overview of the structure and key findings of this year’s Education Monitor.
Afterwards, the panel – which included experts and prominent stakeholders in assessments from KP and across the country – discussed best practices and challenges related to specific stages of the assessment cycle, as well as the broader challenges that assessment bodies face in pursuit of quality at the institutional level. Panelists included Dr. Muhammad Memon from BISE Hyderabad, Dr. Shehzad Jeeva from Aga Khan University – Examination Board (AKU-EB), Ms. Unaeza Alvi from Sukkur Institute of Business Administration (IBA), and Dr. Qasim Marwat from the KP Technical Board of Education.
Dr. Jeeva opined that for the reforms of KP’s secondary examinations to be effective, they must not be carried out in isolation. Rather, they must be integrated with the teaching and learning process. In a similar vein, Ms. Alvi noted that teachers, students, principals, textbook boards, and teacher training institutions all need to be engaged if the transition away from rote-based examinations is to be successful across the province.
Dr. Memon mentioned the opposition he faced in Sindh when he tried to initiate assessment reforms as chairman of BISE Hyderabad. He noted that the pursuit of reform requires resilience and persistence, as there are bound to be obstacles along the way. Dr. Marwat argued that the existing examination system is obsolete and needs a full-scale overhaul, with a focus on making assessment activities student-centered and engaging.
All panelists were unanimous in their concern for the quality of human resources and technical expertise needed to bring assessments systems in Pakistan up to par with international standards, but mentioned that some of the changes that have emerged in the last few years in certain parts of the country are promising.
|Date||30 August 2016|
|Partner||Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Peshawar|
|Sponsor||Open Society Foundations|
Abdullah Ali Khan, Research Associate