As the world is still confronted with the shockwaves of coronavirus and no reliable treatment of the deadly infection is in place, our country has emerged as a success story in fighting the pandemic. Pakistan has reported 285,655 confirmed cases and 6,120 deaths so far.
With our 20 million infections worldwide, the pandemic is hitting hard even the world’s most developed nations like the USA, and Russia. The number of infections in neighboring India has surpassed 2.3 million with the daily average of 50,000 new cases since mid-June 2020.
In such a dismal scenario, a significant reduction in Pakistan’s COVID-19 positive cases is inviting international praise. United Nations General Assembly’s President-elect Volkan Bozkir has termed Pakistan’s strategy against Covid-19 a “good example” for the world to follow.
However, an initial victory against Covid-19 doesn’t assure permanent signs of relief especially when there’s no vaccine in mass supply, and no viable treatment available as yet.
Overwhelmed with the satisfactorily high recovery rate the government has lifted coronavirus related restrictions and allowed the businesses to operate as usual with strict compliance of SOPs. Punjab Public Service Commission has announced the commencement of Combined Competitive Examination (PMS 2020) from the 22nd of this month at the time when the majority of educational institutions are closed due to the pandemic related restrictions.
The educational institutions across the country are scheduled to reopen from 15th of the September. If students in educational institutes contract the COVID-19 infection or show symptoms they can take some days off from school to avail the necessary quarantine but the case for PMS aspirants is entirely different.
If any of the aspirants take a day off from exam due to COVID-19 symptoms then his/her chance to appear in the examination shall stand consumed.
Another pertinent question that has not been addressed by PPSC is what criteria would examination body follow if it finds aspirants with unusually high temperatures probably a symptom of Covid-19. Would it kick out the aspirants with cough and fever out of the examination room or else allow them to join the rest to spread the infection?
In either case, the vulnerability of aspirants towards contracting coronavirus and risking their lives is considerably high. Moreover, no concessions have been ascertained for those who contract the viruses during the commencement of the exams.
Accommodation facility for the aspiring candidates is another serious concern as hundreds of the candidates avail the nearest and affordable residential facilities which are certainly closed due to pandemic. PMS isn’t the matter of one-day examination, it’s days long examination so the risk becomes undoubtedly high given the troubled situation of public transport.
The early conduct of province-level examination without waiting for the conditions to get normalized would ultimately forbid several applicants without availing their chance even if it is their last chance. PMS is more than an examination, it is an opportunity that must be dealt with equity.