‘Patience test’ for govt jobseekers

PSC fails to publish results of 38th BCS in over 3 years; candidates frustrated with process; experts call for reforms
40th BCS written exam 2020

"Universities once had awful session jam. Now there is no session jam and we are graduating in four years. But then it takes three to five years just for a job. It's unbelievable. A waste of youthful energy. Nobody is thinking of resolving this." -- A job seeker


More than three years have passed and the Public Service Commission (PSC) is yet to announce the final result of the 38th BCS -- testing the patience of over nine thousand university graduates to the limit.

The frustration over the lengthy recruitment procedure of the attractive public cadre service job was quite evident among the aspiring candidates, and a graduate from Department of Social Welfare at Dhaka University, who appeared in the 38th BCS exams, summed it up precisely.

"Universities once had awful session jam. Now there is no session jam and we are graduating in four years. But then it takes three to five years just for a job. It's unbelievable. A waste of youthful energy. Nobody is thinking of resolving this."

The process for the 38th BCS started following a Ministry of Public Administration requisition to the PSC on March 5, 2017 for the recruitment of 2,024 cadre officers.

The preliminary exam of the 38th BCS involving over 3.5 lakh candidates was held on December 29, 2017. The preliminary exam results were published on February 18, 2018 with 16 thousand passing it.

The written test ended on August 13, 2018 and the results were published on July 1, 2019, which is a new record of delay for written result. The PCS then took viva test of over nine thousand successful candidates till February this year. 

Contacted, PSC Chairman Mohammad Sadiq said, "We were preparing to publish the results by the end of March or the first week of April. But the coronavirus has changed everything. We are really helpless."

He said that all the PSC members are retired government secretaries or additional secretaries who are aged over 60. The controller and other officials are over 50. Since the BCS result is very sensitive, the presence of everyone is needed but in the current Covid-19 situation prevented that assembly.

Asked when the results would be published, the PSC chairman said, "I would have been the happiest person if I could have published it today. But we cannot do much because of coronavirus. I will request the candidates to understand the situation and be patient."

The fact is that not only 38th BCS, each batch at least takes two to three years to complete the recruitment procedure that includes lengthy police verification, health check-up and gazette notification after the final result.

However, the process of recruitment in civil service does not take that long in developed countries or even in other South Asian countries including neighbouring India.

The government job here has increasingly become most attractive for the young graduates over the last one decade due to social security, good pay structure and transparent recruitment process. The 41st BCS appoint circular published in November last year saw 4 lakh 75 thousand candidates applying for exams.


Analysing the 16 BCS batches in last 18 years it has been found that it took PSC two to three years to announce the final result.

The 27th BCS took 39 months, the 28th took 27 months, the 29th needed 26 months and the 30th required 20 months. It took 16 months for 31st BCS, 14 months for 32nd Special BCS and 20 months for 33rd BCS to publish the final result.

Then it took another 8-10 months for police verification and gazette notification.

It took PSC 30 months to publish the results of the 34th BCS.

PSC took the shortest time for publishing the 35th BCS which was 18 months. But then again it took another eight months for verification and gazette notification. The final results and gazettes of the 36th and 37th BCS also took nearly three years.

However, the 38th BCS has so far beats them all.

PSC chairman Mohammad Sadiq said there were obvious reasons for the delay.

"It has often been seen that many competent candidates got low marks. To avoid this in the 38th BCS, we have decided for the first time that two examiners will evaluate the written papers and we will make an average. But in many cases the markings of the two examiners so widely varied that we had to send it to a third examiner. As a result, it has taken a year to publish the written result. That is the main reason for the delay," the PSC chairman said.

He also said that the viva voce started from July 29 last year and it took them eight months to finish the test of nine thousand candidates on February 9 this year.


In the developed world, there is no craze for BCS or government jobs. So, they don't need much time. India's civil service is the oldest in South Asia. They take BCS each year and the process is completed in 12 to 15 months.

The Union Public Service Commission of India conducts the Central Civil Service Examination. They take the preliminary examination in June of each year and publish the results in August. Then the written test in October and the results are published in January. The final results of the viva are published in May. Those who are finally selected go for the foundation training of their job which starts from September each year.

Then why does it take so long in Bangladesh?

Ikram Ahmed, the immediate past PSC chairman, said: "During my tenure I have had the opportunity to see how Public Service Commissions of various countries in South Asia operate. Things here are very complicated. In fact, it takes the longest time in our country because of advertisement, application, then preparing question, moderation and then wait for the government press to publish it.  After the exam, again you will have to wait for the evaluation. Here if a single examiner is late in submission the whole result is delayed."

Asked what could be the possible solution, Ikram Ahmed said that the PSC could call the examiners in the commission and request them to evaluate the papers in their office.

"If necessary, their transportation costs and honorarium can be increased. Then like India, there should be a system of 'cut marks' in both preliminaries and written tests. This will help reduce the candidates. I think we should not take more than one year for a BCS result," he added.

Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder said, "Youth is the most important time in a person's life. But a considerable time of the educated youth is spent just for BCS exam which is not the case in any other countries in the world. Even after the final results, it was seen that another seven-eight months were wasted in the name of police verification. It is unnecessary."

Citing the recent appointment of additional 2,000 doctors from 39th BCS, the gazette of which was published in November last year without any police verification, he said, "That means it is possible and it is the practice in India. ICS, CSP did not take so long time. I think it is still possible to solve the problems. And for that we need some reforms."

Asked what the PSC was thinking about reforming to reducing time, current chairman Mohammad Sadiq said, "I have overcome a few challenges. There was not a single incident of question leak in the last five years. Transparency has been established and more candidates are coming than ever before.

"In Bangladesh we work with 26 types of cadre appointment while in India its Central Service Commission works with only general cadres. We have general, technical and mixed cadres. Only in education cadre we have to take exams on nearly fifty subjects. As a result, it takes more time. To reduce time, we need to think about whether there will be so many cadres in the civil service, and if so, how to recruit them and what reform we really need is our future challenge."

The writer is a freelance journalist.



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