Central Superior Services in Pakistan are one of the institutions of civil bureaucracy inherited from the British Raj to help government in running the affairs of the state. Bureaucracy was the backbone of the Raj in Indian Subcontinent during its rule from 1858 to 1947.
A system of recruitment was introduced as Imperial Civil Service, which later on got renamed to Indian Civil Service. For almost first fifty years, it was open only to the British citizens. But after some reforms, a small quota of 5% was reserved for the Indians too.
India, as a colony, was governed on the principles of feudalism, and therefore only the elite could make their way to the services. Thus it rightly earned ‘superior’ in its title. The aspirant feudal used to keep a big portion of their earnings to send their kids abroad to train and to qualify for the selection process.
When Pakistan came into being, it inherited the same system with its complexes and trends. Although very little changes had been made to the procedure, the services were yet very much meant for the elites in Pakistan. However in the last three decades, political and demographic transition helped the middle class to make their place in the services too.
In recent few years, a trend in the youth is on peak to join the Civil Services. A big number of youngsters spend years to prepare for the exam. The exam procedure is so uneven to establish success. Very few get selected, while the majority fails and go into life complexes of various natures.
The selection ratio is even low in the backward areas. KP selectees are also quite down in the list, not reflecting the general talent, qualification, and hard work of the applicants, although they spare no effort to qualify the whole process. Some of the actual reasons and reservations of KP applicants behind this big ratio difference are:
The respondents believe that KP students have the issue of confidence and communication. They are of the view that Pashtun students have poor schooling to attain eloquence and fluency as well as lack the boldness to express things.
This is right, as more than 90% of the students in KP get education in rural areas. The government and private educational institutions are not of the quality to train students in fair expression of boldness. Even if the students carry good ideas, they cannot put them in proper oral and written form.
Many opine that a sophisticated critical thinking is found in the aspirants from Punjab. There is a wide impression regarding KP students that they lack ‘Out of the Box’ thinking quality to write and speak.
If a type of critical thinking is the standard to evaluate in the exam, then it itself becomes too much subjective. Students represent different backgrounds and so an associated thinking.
Assessing the nature of critical thinking in all four provinces, it varies. Every thinking takes impression from the structure. Conditions in KP are quite different than Punjab. People experience things differently on grounds and watch differently from calm areas. On terrorism, extremism, and violence the expressed stuff of those from KP would be of somehow different language than that of students from other parts. Examiners prefer to soft sugar-coated language. Thus the marking of paper is not in favor of KP students which of course is another misfortune.
There is a common complaining attitude of our students regarding low quality education in the province. Those who have visited the educational institutions, in Punjab and KP both, can feel the difference. Good education comes out of good institutions. It is true, the common standard of education in both provinces is not equal. The conditions of universities and colleges in KP are quite down. Our institutions are in the struggle of bare survival. Big universities in the province are on the verge of collapse. Many universities face fund issues and to meet financial deficiencies, students are burdened with huge fee.
A big number thinks that the students don’t have enough know-how to prepare for the competitive exams. Experts are of the view that it is not important to study big but to study smart.
It is a common trend amongst the youth in Punjab, which is missing in KP. The aspirants start preparing since school days in Punjab. On the contrary in KP, majority of the students start to opt for competitive exams after graduation. This difference point out other imbalances as well. And if the ground is not level, there can be no fair competition. The application of equality rule in an uneven ground for competition, itself becomes an inequality.
It has been seen that only 2 to 3 percent of candidates could secure minimum passing marks in the CSS exam which obviously depicts the poor counseling of students. Some experts say that one of the main reasons of declining percentage in this exam is that the focus of higher education is much more on numbers and quite less on quality. The current result is also pointing out the falling standard of the education system.
• This is not enough to say that the students are not talented. The talent is there, but in fact it is the education system which is not capable enough to explore and polish these students. Consequently, no Pakistani university ranks in even the top 100 global listings. Perhaps concentrating on fewer but quality universities would have a greater impact than establishing newer.
• The Federal Public Service Commission should not act purely as a bureaucratic organization but an adaptable modern talent hunting body. It should establish an institutional network with leading universities, ministries, and departments for whom it could hunt the talent.
• We must understand the fact that Pakistan is a federation with four provinces. A federation recognizes different cultures and ethnicity into its units. Some of the regional cultures glamorize introvert-ness in families and other interactions. Pashtun culture is too much respectful to cause shyness in youth. This thing is reiterated in society and educational institutions. Due to this affirmative philosophy, all the applicants should not be dealt equally. Otherwise this rule demands to have different exams according to the educational level of the people.
• The Civil Service of Pakistan selects only 7.5% of the applicants by merit, education, qualification and experience while 92.5% are selected by the quota system. This system should be abolished in CSS exam to create a fair ground on basis of personality potential to give equal chance to everyone to serve Pakistan in top notched levels of bureaucracy. Even if the quota system is retained, then it should be according to its spirit i.e. to treat each province as per its merits.
• We know that paper checkers/examiners are legally prohibited to teach for a certain limit of time but there can be so many ways to access the examiners in a system where human factor is not reliable. This problem may be rationalized in a way to ban the culture of formal/big academies where important figures teach, who in return have been in close connections with the exam process. However, the examination better be managed by the provincial centers. This way, the central office would provide all the required facilities only. This step would reinvigorate transparency and also enable the smaller provinces to groom for such exams.
Undeniably, Prime Minister and other stakeholders are in favor of restructuring and reforming the Civil Services of Pakistan and they have time and again taken initiatives to reform the civil bureaucracy. Unfortunately however, the majority have failed.