Score reporting of Matric & Intermediate education systems

A lot of kids are opting for O & A Levels which is British education system in Pakistan but a vast majority of children still appear in traditional matric and intermediate exams. So it is important that we keep that local examination system reliable and up to a certain bar.

Years ago when my elder brother passed his matric exam, he scored ~80% marks and stood in one of top positions in whole board and was awarded a medal. A few years later when my sister passed the same exam, she also got ~80% marks but she was not in any of medal holders but still got some kind of scholarship and got admission easily in Kinnaird College which usually had highest merit. Then when my turn came to pass the same exam, I also got ~80% marks but I was no where close to top positions and didn’t get to Govt. College Lahore on open merit which usually had highest merit list. But a general perception was that I have scored as well as my older siblings which was certainly wrong. This clearly tells me that absolute scores are not a true representation of how well you have scored. In past ten years, I occasionally get to know about some kid in family scoring 90% marks and everyone appraising him by saying that no one else in family got that much marks before. And then they don’t get admission in any of good institutes as everyone else has scored even better.

I have heard in past 10 years or so, a lot of changes have been made to syllabus as well as changing the question types from lengthy answers to multiple choice which results in higher absolute scores.

So my whole point is that although absolute marks represents some level of guarantee that how well a child has scored, it is not really a true representation. Like almost all international standard exams, a percentile needs to be reported so one can figure out how well he/she has performed relative to everyone else. And performance relative to everyone is what matters most when it comes to applying for undergrad programs or even for a general idea about performance. It is possible that a child having scored 95% absolute marks has not done very well if he falls into 50th percentile which means half of the students who appeared in that exam scored more that him. Ideally both metrics (absolute score & percentile) should be reported but if for some reason only one is allowed then I would even argue that percentiles is more important than absolute scores.

People settling abroad is pride or brain drain?

Sometimes I see Pakistanis celebrating the achievements of other so-called fellow Pakistanis on a global platform. A few recent examples include Sadiq Khan becoming Mayor of London, boxer Amir Khan getting global attention and so on. When I see such news, critique side of me sees Pakistanis celebrating achievements of some foreign nationals, born or raised in a foreign country, who happen to be from a Pakistani descent which they seem to acknowledge a little bit sometimes and sometimes not. I would be highly surprised if boxer Amir Khan, mayor Sadiq Khan or any such person officially or unofficially represents Pakistan on these global platforms. They are British nationals, that’s what their identity is and that’s what they are proud of.

Now let me generalize the discussion a bit and make the point that I really want to convey. I see four categories of people whose achievements we do celebrate:

1) Born/raised in a foreign country but happen to be from Pakistani descent

I already talked about this category. While there is probably nothing wrong in feeling good about it but we should be clear that they are not really Pakistanis and Pakistan probably has nothing to do (in a good/bad way) with their achievements.

2) Born/raised in Pakistan, achieve something through a global platform and leave

Now we are talking about kind of first category of people whom either we fail as a nation or they fail us as individuals. If I extrapolate, this actually looks to me as a drainage of brightest minds of country. We as a nation could not provide them a local platform and when they had option, they prefer to leave and never contribute back really.

3) Born/raised in Pakistan, achieve something through a global platform and stays

These are kind of people where our real heroes category starts. We as a nation could not provide them a local platform to shine and get recognized but they decided to pay back to motherland where they were born and raised. And this is something to be appreciated especially when they had option to leave and make their own life and supposedly a better one in some ways.

4) Born/raised in Pakistan, achieve something through a local platform and stays

This is my favorite category and that’s where I want to see our nation. Just imagine that everyone get a local platform and opportunities to rise and shine and they give back to society when time comes. This is where a nation really wins, build heroes and those heroes never disappoint.

 Let’s forget about 1st category for the sake of discussion as that does not really matter. While there is nothing wrong to be happy about category 2nd kind of people but if this is still the preferred choice of individuals even after 70+ years of own country existence, I feel that we as a nation need to fix something here. It might be fine if we start in 2nd category but if we are not really progressing to higher categories over time, I have doubt that we will make our mark in this World as a successful nation.

First blog post

It’s been a while that I would randomly wake up in middle of night with some thoughts and an urge to get up and put them on paper. But I have always been lazy and always convinced myself that this is first thing I will do when I wake up and that never happens. And the real point diminishes during the day activities and I tend to lose the motivation to sit down and track that back.

Tonight I finally decided to get up, sacrifice sleep a little bit and give it a shot. I hope I can continue the trend.