While the apex body overseeing operations of medical and dental colleges across Pakistan is demanding unified entry tests for admissions to such institutes, an association of these very private colleges has demanded an altogether abolition of admission tests.
Addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, Pakistan Association of Medical and Dental Institutions (PAMI) General Secretary Khaqan Khawaja also demanded the government increase the number of allowed admissions in medical and dental colleges.
In its recommendations for admissions to medical institutes publicised last month, Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) had proposed that all provinces, Islamabad Capital Territory and Azad Jammu and Kashmir hold a single uniform entry test for admissions into medical and dental colleges falling within their jurisdiction. There are about 101 private and 51 government medical and dental colleges operating across the country presently. The PMDC had also proposed raising the annual tuition fee from Rs 642,000 to Rs 800,000, apparently against a demand by private medical and dental institutions of hiking the fee to Rs 1.3 million annually. However, the council recommended an annual increase of 7%.
Culture of Corruption
Putting PAMI’s charter of demands before the press on Wednesday, Khawaja said the association should also be given representation in the PMDC. He said private medical institutions were core stakeholders and should have a seat in the 33-member board of PMDC. Furthering the argument, the PAMI general secretary said entry tests were unjust and promoted “a culture of corruption”.
He lamented that a two-hour-long entry test was given 50% a weightage in admissions, while the four years a student spent from grade 9th to 12th was worth 40% during the arduous admission process. “If by any chance a student fails to perform well in the entry test, his or her struggle of four years goes down the drain,” he said.
Khawaja also alleged that entry examination question papers were leaked and sold for millions of rupees. He said those with financial muscle bought their way into medical institutes through these leaked papers, while the poor missed out on the opportunity to receive an education.
Besides, many headed to foreign countries to pursue medical education after failing to clear the test, he added. “They all go to other countries for medical education taking revenue with them too. If the seats are increased [locally] they can study in Pakistan’s medical colleges and go to other countries for jobs and in turn add to remittances.”
The government should, therefore, increase the annual intake in medical colleges, Khawaja said, adding, “The government should introduce policies to facilitate and develop the sector instead of making undue regulations.”
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