Dr Azra Pechuho says students’ demands are valid
There were many problems in the way the MDCAT was conducted and the recently amended results are full of irregularities, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said on Monday. Provinces should be allowed to hold their own tests instead of students retaking the MDCAT, she stated.
Under the 18th Amendment, provinces can conduct their own Medical and Dental Colleges Admission Test.
“Taking the test is the job of the provinces and the federal government is trampling on the rights of the provinces,” the Sindh health minister said.
In the past, provinces autonomously conducted entry tests according to the PMDC criteria as there was no single national curriculum. The Pakistan Medical Commission has ignored the Sindh High Court’s directives and conducted the test without forming a uniform national syllabus, Dr Pechuho said. There were 40 questions out of syllabus in the MDCAT, she added.
She objected to the way the test was conducted in small centres despite the ongoing pandemic, without the supervision of experts or involvement of any medical university. Poor surveillance led to cheating and the use of mobile phones in the test, Dr Pechuho added.
Many irregularities were observed in the test results, according to the minister. The names of candidates did not match their roll numbers in the results, while PMC gave grace marks to students on 14 questions but the questions were not known to students.
The health minister pointed out that holding the MDCAT separately for students with COVID-19 on December 13 also led to irregularities in compiling the results.
Students in rural areas got unsatisfactory results and this might lead to a shortage of doctors there, according to her. This would create more problems and affect health services in the future.
Dr Pechuho said the concerns of the protesting students and their families over these results were valid and the federal government should listen to their demands. Other provinces had expressed the same concerns and these needed to be addressed, she added.
“We demand the MDCAT not be taken again and that provinces be given the option to conduct their own tests,” the provincial health minister stated.
Lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir, however, advised students to unanimously demand a retest.
“#MDCAT: My advise to all students who want to ensure transparency and fairness is to stay united on the demand for reconducting #MDCAT,” Nasir wrote on Twitter. “Issue of rechecking or grace marks becomes irrelevant if the test is reconducted.”
#MDCAT: My advise to all students who want to ensure transparency and fairness is to stay united on the demand for reconducting #MDCAT. Issue of rechecking or grace marks becomes irrelevant if test is reconducted. Rechecking & grace marks will hide PMC’s incompetence/corruption.— M. Jibran Nasir (@MJibranNasir) December 21, 2020
Nasir was the legal counsel for students who had earlier filed multiple petitions against the PMC over the legality of the MDCAT.
The Sindh High Court had stopped Sindh from holding entry tests for medical colleges on October 18.