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NTS Recruitment Tests Fiasco

Adnan Aamir

When the current government of Balochistan assumed power there were thousands of vacancies in the education department. In order to fill those vacancies, the government decided to outsource the recruitment testing phase to a third party called National Testing Service (NTS). Applications for recruitment tests on over 4,000 vacancies of teachers were announced in December last year. 11 months have passed and still the recruitment process is nowhere near its end.

NTS tests for recruitment of education department vacancies has been subject to severe criticism in Balochistan, and justifiably so. Incumbent government assumed power in June 2013 and NTS tests were announced in December 2014. It means that current government had one and half year which it could have used to improve the capacity of education department to conduct its own recruitment tests. Government decided otherwise and outsourced the recruitment tests to a third party. Effectively, government admitted its lack of capacity to conduct tests fairly while claiming to impose education emergency in Balochistan.

Another question that surrounds the involvement of NTS in this matter is the legal authority of NTS for conducting the tests. Which rule authorized the government to give the task of holding these tests to NTS, when they are actually supposed to be conducted by education department? This question is yet to be answered by the education department in Balochistan.

What is more surprising is the way NTS got the contract. Normally when third parties are hired by government departments, a formal bidding process is carried out to select the best bidder. However, in this case there was no such bidding and NTS was given the contract through an arbitrary decision. NTS collected more than Rs. 100 million from these tests because the fee per application was Rs. 1,000 and almost 100,000 applications were submitted. In this context, awarding contract to NTS hints towards possible financial corruption which needs to be investigated.

When the education department vacancies were announced it was stated that vacancies would be distributed based on the Union Councils (UCs). However, the number of vacancies reserved for each UC was not disclosed from the outset. As a result, unemployed youth in Balochistan applied in huge numbers for these vacancies and appeared in tests. Now, education department has revealed that there are no vacancies in many of the UCs from which candidates appeared in large numbers.

Why were the candidates kept in dark about the availability of vacancies in their UCs? Was it done to encourage more and more people to apply for tests so that NTS can make more money? Again, these pertinent questions are needed to be answered.

It should be known that Balochistan is a den of corruption and bad governance. The level of corruption has gone down in this government as compared to last one, but still it’s significantly present. Therefore, the recruitment process of education department has also been marred with corruption and nepotism ever since the recruitment tests took place. Ingenuous technical maneuvering has ensured recruitment of favorites.

In most of districts of Balochistan, the politicians in power or those with influence have transferred the existing teachers in their opponents’ areas. As a result this has created vacancies in schools of their areas and their favorites would be selected on jobs. Candidates belonging to the UCs, which are under the influence of opposite party, suffer because they will not get any jobs due to absence of vacancies in their areas.

That’s not all; another game is also being played to ensure the selection of lot of favorite candidates. District Recruitment Committees (DRC) have been set up and empowered to make rules for selection in their respective districts. This very idea is flawed in nature because there should have been one uniform recruitment policy throughout the province, not different policies for every district.

DRCs in certain districts have changed the basic denomination for recruitment from UC to ward level. Ward is a smaller unit than UC and therefore a candidate who doesn’t qualify as per the merit list of UC can qualify in the ward. Technically, this irrational plan has been concocted only to ensure selection of favorites. In one such example, DRC brought the daughter of an influential person from lower down the list to the top position by unfairly changing the recruitment policies.

Since day one, the recruitment policy to be followed in education department tests has been shrouded in mystery. Till this day there is ambiguity about the correct recruitment policy. In fact, no one knows publicly what the exact recruitment policy for these vacancies is. This slashes a huge question mark on the transparency of the entire process.

For readers outside of Balochistan this must be a petty issue not worth discussing. However, inside the province, it’s one of the most significant concerns due to rampant unemployment. Recruitments in education department are a litmus test for the education emergency in the province. So far, all the factors indicate that education emergency is nothing more than a political gimmick. Unfair recruitments based on favoritism in education department would cement that claim once and for all.

Courtesy: The Nation

Published in The Balochistan Point on November 14, 2015

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Point not necessarily agrees with them.

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