Don’t rely on competitive examinations
Intelligence cannot be defined by exams. We are losing too much talent by defining intelligence through totally inadequate and restrictive exams,” says director Peter Tait.
The problem of measuring intelligence by CSS, PMS or test conducted by FPSC is that it is an inadequate guide to human capacity.
“Many very intelligent people are bad thinkers, many people of average intelligence are expert thinkers, the power of a car is different from that of the car.” – Edward de Bono
Each year, at that time, the pressure in the race for CSS increases, while CSS prepares to feed a series of winners. As they help determine our position on the world stage. Confident in our system of public examinations, designed largely to separate the “smartest” from the least “smart”, we can feel satisfied to filter our education more apt for higher education and all the opportunities that result. It sounds simple enough, if it was that simple.
The problem lies in the word intelligence. The common definition of “having speed of understanding and ability to apply knowledge and skills at a high level” should make us wonder if our current review system is well equipped.
Many “smart” students, identified by data from various intelligence tests (CSS, PMS etc.), are frustrated by documents that shred the same questions from another angle. These allow little or no original thinking and even actively discourage creative thinking and intelligent responses.
In simple terms, the measurement of intelligence by examination is inevitably as limited as the examination itself. While this may be reasonable, perhaps the best we can offer, it will not identify many people who instinctively know that they are smart. “Exam results do not determine success in life”.
There are simple reasons for this, apart from the failure of examinations to measure divergent thinking and creativity (in part due to the need to keep marking as an objective and, therefore, as rigid as possible to eliminate any subjective judgment margin).
The problem of measuring intelligence in itself is that it is an inadequate guide to human capacity, and that many of the ways in which we use it to measure labor intelligence are totally inadequate. What we should try to identify and nurture are, without a doubt, those with the capacity for effective or applied intelligence, those who can do something with the knowledge and skills they acquire.
Too many “smart” students, often bored by conventional learning, are passing through. Others simply think differently about the straitjacket dictated by “one size fits all” exams. For example, the list of luminaries with learning difficulties who have had difficulty expressing themselves in conventional examinations allows a sober reading.
In 2016, the FPSC, based on a series of studies, changed the rules of the exam. FPSC had followed the trends of engineers opted for mathematics with high scores and obtained solid grades, it was not possible even for the brightest students of other subjects with lower scores. This specialized thematic approach has also been adopted in other areas, putting the majority of students in unfair situations.
Since the CSS test concept is based on the search for intelligence with proven level GPs, the FPSC has created six different subject groups, including economics and accounting, pure science/mathematics, business/public administration, history, environment/earth sciences and law. This forced the candidates to choose practically one subject from each group to ensure equality of conditions.
In the old days of our harvest, there were no multiple choice questions and passing an exam was an art in itself. English literature students and those with better writing skills had a definite advantage. A few decades later, we saw a preponderance of engineers and participating physicians. Until the FPSC discovers another aberration, the new rules aim to correct this defect.
Any new system takes time to master. Since even a failure problem completely eliminates a candidate’s chances, the approval rate has been reduced, since most have had problems with the choice where they have little experience.
Something more contextual is required. Constitutionally, there are three pillars of the state: the executive, the judiciary and the parliament. Over the years, three other pillars have emerged: the army, the media and the mullah. Each one jealously defends its territory. Take the army and justice. There is only internal responsibility. The media and the public are generally cautious when it comes to criticizing them. Beyond a certain point, the institutions intervene to defend their respective members.
Similarly, criticisms or accusations against a parliamentarian quickly refuted by the media to which you have access. He/she can also use the floor of the house to use the most chosen invective for criticism. And criticize the mullah at your own risk.
Meanwhile, the criticism of a media person and he/she will ensure that all your errors, real or imaginary, are communicated to all and that you are obliged to devote to full time media management to register your honor. If this option is not available, your union, channel or co-workers come to the rescue.
Only bureaucrats are not defended by anyone, not even by their own colleagues. Going to the media is against the rules and “organizing” the defense of a bureaucrat through the media is difficult because public officials have informal access. The officers’ associations are docile because of the years of servile training; they protest only through the “appropriate channels”.
Attacks on bureaucracy remain the favorite pastime of the justice system, the media and politicians. Bureaucrats are used as examples of unbridled power, inefficiency and corruption, traits that are not exclusive to them.
When the young men and women who enter the CSS are publications of political recommendations and not of merit, when they understand that the loyalty to the politician in power wins an electoral bureaucrat, they are corrupt in their ranks, it leaves the idealism.
Those who abstain from queuing or sent to any affiliated organization, away from the general public, or just learn to spend time, become negative and obstructionist in the process.
When the bureaucracy does not give it respect for the skills and the pillars of the state, the public does the same thing and you have a system where we all take for granted. As a result, he cannot carry out his mandate.
Even young and idealistic CSS entry, do not get support and advice from their superiors, who are not sure. Secretaries Establishment at federal and provincial level, who were once the source of the supreme power of the civil servant, cannot be assured and have become post offices.
Can you imagine a head of the Pakistani army waiting for hours outside the prime minister’s office to receive orders or get approval for the publication of the commanders of his body, or to protest against the publication of a brigadier general behind? Well, that’s what happens all the time when it comes to bureaucrats.
We lose too many talented and intelligent people by defining intelligence through tests that are wholly inadequate and constricting. We need to look wider and encourage the entrepreneur, the inquisitive, the creative and the downright cussed in our system to make the most of who we are and to bring out the richness and diversity of thought and ideas in our society.
The writer is an Advocate High Court Islamabad and teaches at the Best Law College, Rawalpindi.