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PMA questions the transparency
of MDCAT Exam. by PMC

KARACHI: Pakistan Medical Association (Centre) as well PMA Punjab and Lahore have questioned the transparency of the MDCAT examination conducted by the Pakistan Medical Commission. Addressing press conferences at Karachi and Lahore last week, the PMA leadership expressed concern over the recent situation in the country due to mismanagement in MDCAT Exam. The students are protesting against the flaws it had.

They pointed out that the controversy began at initial stages when MDCAT conducting contract was awarded to a private firm incorporated after the advertisement deadline. Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules were breached for awarding contract to a company which had zero experience of conducting such exam. Even Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) pointed out the violations of Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules in award of the Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) contract to a company named SOAR Testing and Evaluation Platform (SMC).

The exams held online were conducted in a chaotic atmosphere and riddle with administrative problems. The software and hardware used by PMC for the exams had malfunctioned; the servers hosting the exams were frequently down. The hard work of students was wasted due to the poor examination system of the PMC. The students were not given the right to complain or get their papers reassessed or scrutinized. The internet at the centers was not working, which resulted in many answers not being recorded and scored. The system has a technical fault due to which skipped or edited questions do not get scored. PMA. they stated, believes that students are rightly demanding to cancel the MDCAT due to its alleged technical flaws. 

It was another blunder that PMC introduced the online examination system without doing pilot project and taking stakeholders on board, due to which now they are getting information about flaws. In the past, tests were held on answer sheets and just after exam carbon copy was provided to students. Later, a key was uploaded on the website due to which candidates never argued over exam results. 

It is very unfortunate that instead of resolving the issue of innocent students our government has become violent and protesting students were tortured brutally and many were sent to jail. This harsh attitude of the government towards students is not acceptable. From the day one PMA has opposed the National Licensing Examination (NLE), which has been made compulsory for the young doctors to pass after graduation to obtain full license to practice. This shows that you do not have trust over the medical education system even through this new Act. 

The other problem with decision will be a mushroom growth of coaching centers in the country. In the name of preparing the students for Exit Exams they will charge hefty fees from already overburdened parents. Financial burden will increase manifold for the parents who want to educate their children. NLE should be abolished and standards of under graduate medical education should be improved.

PMA had been demanding for the last many years to form a democratic, autonomous, independent and transparent body to regulate medical education in the country but unfortunately in contrast to our demand government passed an undemocratic and controversial Act to form PMC. The PMC Act is undemocratic and allows Prime Minister to nominate the council, they concluded. Some of the suggestions they have put forward are as under:

  1. PMA demands from the government to cancel the results of MDCAT and reschedule it to hold it on a single day all over Pakistan.
  2. MDCAT should be conducted in transparent way and the carbon copy should be provided to all candidates to keep the transparency. 
  3. All the stakeholders should be taken on board before taking any Major Decision regarding Medical Education in the country.
  4. MDCAT conducting contract should be awarded to some reputed local company on merit.
  5. NLE exam should be abolished. 
  6. The Young Doctors of Baluchistan have boycotted the OPDs at public hospitals in Baluchistan against lack of facilities and alleged privatization of public hospitals. Due to this closure the poor patients are suffering. Government should immediately negotiate with young doctors to resolve the issue.

PMA believes that PMC should always consult provincial governments and other stakeholders in the process of regulating medical education in the country. Otherwise provinces will be left with no option other than to form their own regulatory bodies for the medical education in their respective provinces.

Pakistan Medical Association strongly condemns the brutal violence against peaceful doctors in Islamabad who were protesting against National Licensing Exam (NLE). This is failure of the Government that doctors are on roads for their genuine demands and facing violence by law enforcement agencies. Government is going against the democratic norms. Doctors are cream of the society; government should have resolved their problem before their protest. Government should react wisely and negotiate with protesting doctors to resolve the issue, they added.

At Karachi press conference was addressed by Dr. S M Qasir Sajjad and Dr. Mirza Ali Azhar Secretary and President of PMA Centre while some other office bearers and parents of some students were also present on this occasion. (PR)

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