BCS Examinees: Backlog at PSC eating away precious years
Rakib Hasan, a Dhaka University graduate, applied for the 41st Bangladesh Civil Service exam in 2019.
After passing the preliminary and written tests, he took part in the viva voce only last month.
Four years have gone by since the publication of the exam circular, and he is still not sure when the Public Service Commission (PSC) will make the recommendation for recruiting candidates who passed the 41st BCS tests.
The PSC is now conducting viva of 13,000 candidates of the 41st BCS exam.
In the meantime, Rakib sat for the 43rd and 44th BCS preliminary and written tests and came out successful in the preliminary tests. The results of the written tests are not out yet. He will prepare for the 45th BCS preliminary test since he does not know whether he would get the government job through 41st, 43rd, and 44th exams.
Rakib's is not an isolated case. A huge backlog of recruitment work at the PSC has left the future uncertain for several lakh job seekers.
Such a backlog is also having a significant impact on the BCS candidates, who remain unemployed for years. Also, it diminishes the candidates' chances of taking more BCS exams before they reach the cutoff age of 30.
On January 1, 2021, three and a half months after he took charge as the PSC chairman, Md Sohorab Hossain said they were preparing a roadmap to help complete the entire BCS examination process in one year.
However, the PSC is yet to finalise the roadmap. It still takes at least three years to complete a BCS exam process.
The ogranisation is now dealing with four BCS exams -- 41st, 43rd, 44th and 45th.
The 42nd BCS exam, a special one for doctors, was held in 2021. A total 3,957 candidates of that exam were appointed by the government on February 22, 2022.
I took the 41st BCS exam for a grade-1 job. Four years have passed since my graduation, but I am still unemployed. The PSC needs at least one more year to complete the examination process. That means if I am not selected, I have to remain jobless despite all the hard work I have put into the exams.
"I took the 41st BCS exam for a grade-1 job. Four years have passed since my graduation, but I am still unemployed. The PSC needs at least one more year to complete the examination process. That means if I am not selected, I have to remain jobless despite all the hard work I have put into the exams," Sohanur Rahman Sumon, a job seeker, told The Daily Star.
The PSC published the 41st BCS exam circular on November 27, 2019. The preliminary exam was held on March 19, 2021, and the written exams were conducted between November 29 and December 7 that year.
The results of the written exams were published on November 10 last year.
The viva, which is now being held, started on December 5 last year.
Speaking to this correspondent, PSC Chairman Sohorab said, "We could not implement our roadmap due to the coronavirus pandemic and the incomplete work of the previous BCS exams. We are now working on our plan to clear the backlog and reduce the time for recruitment. We will be able to implement our plan after clearing the backlog."
WHY THE BACKLOG?
Two incumbent PSC members said the commission has limited workforce and that's why it has to depend on others to carry out majority of the tasks, including preparing and printing question papers, evaluating answer scripts and holding viva.
"The PSC does not have its own press to print question papers. It does not have its own manpower to prepare question papers and evaluate answer scripts. We have to depend on government officials and teachers of universities and colleges to have those work done," a PSC member told The Daily Star, wishing anonymity.
As the PSC staffers are not involved in the evaluation of answer scripts, the commission can't do much to reduce the time needed for doing the job, he added.
"Again, there is the issue of the third examiner. If the difference of marks awarded to a candidate by two examiners is more than 30 percent, the answer script is referred to a third examiner. In that case, the evaluation process is delayed further," the PSC member said.
Another reason for the delay in publishing the results is the large number of candidates qualifying for viva. A total of 13,000 candidates of the 41st BCS exam qualified for the viva, up from the usual 5,000 to 6,000.
Former PSC chairman Muhammed Sadique said there are many reasons behind the backlog. "There are two parts of a BCS exam -- exam management and result management. Completing both takes time."
The commission also has to take some other public recruitment exams, he told The Daily Star.
The PSC in 2021 formed a probe body to investigate the delay in publishing the results of the 41st BCS written test.
The commission held 318 examiners responsible for negligence in evaluating the answer scripts, said PSC sources.
It later set a time frame for the examiners to complete the evaluation and also decided to drop examiners, who would fail to return the answer scripts withing the stipulated time.
The PSC held several workshops for the examiners to show them the mistakes often made during the evaluation of the answer scripts. The commission decided that an examiner who would commit the same mistake again would be dropped.
Sources in the PSC said the commission is working to bring the written examination process under an automated system to reduce the time of evaluation. Implementing the automation process in the preliminary exam is yielding a positive result as the results of the 44th BCS preliminary test were published 26 days after the test was held.
Also, the PSC has the plan to set up a printing press of its own to reduce the dependency on others for printing question papers.