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The Myth of Academies – Pakistan Today


Sitting in an office of a senior police officer from the Police Service of Pakistan and listening to him quote Herman Melville that “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation” opened wide before me the dilemma of the aspirants of the Central Superior Service (CSS) and other competitive examinations in Pakistan. It has been witnessed in the recent past that academies reign superior over the analytical yet fragile minds of these aspirants and eviscerate them of their originality in pursuit of imitating those who have succeeded. And here starts the profiteering tendencies of the academies that do not sell the skills but fears.

Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi are considered the hubs of these academies. Aspirants would agree that these academies, unfortunately, are being considered the pre-CSS or PMS (Provincial Management Services) colleges that are mandatory to succeed. There are academies which have enrollment crossing 1500 aspirants, a lot more than many private colleges across the country. Now, the question arises why these academies are considered very important even to the foreign graduates to get through the competitive examinations. Following are some of the reasons why these academies have penetrated deep into the life of an aspirant.

Firstly, the advertisement tactics. These institutions have banked on the cutting-edge advertisement tactics that have engrossed all the attention of the aspirants. Advertisement is a major tool to generate huge profits. In advertisements two things are sold. One is fear of how difficult the exam is along with the importance of the academy to crack it. The second is showcasing those who have succeeded by taking their interviews regardless of the fact if they have ever joined the academy or not. The former talks about the danger and the latter about the rescue.

Secondly, introducing different sections. One is termed as the general section and the other is the super of the special section. This is again a tactic to attract aspirants. Those in the special section get a kind of a royal treatment where they are given the special attention that adds nothing but a more financial burden. In all this process if anything is compromised that is the originality of the aspirants which they have learnt during their graduation programmes.

The academies do not play with the emotions of a single candidate but with those of an entire family. For instance,5of there are 40,000 applicants and half of them appear in the exams. More than 80 percent of those appeared have direct or indirect links with the academies. Roughly, these institutions are playing with the emotions and future of 80 percent of the families. This emotional lynching is beyond any cure. Last but not the least, unfortunately, the victims of these academies are the educated and maybe the creative youth which lose all their creative and analytical skills at the hands of these academies. 

Thirdly, introducing the test sessions. Giving tests is always considered the best method to get confidence before appearing in such competitive exams. For the tests, there is a separate fee structure which is another burden on the aspirants. This financial burden is justifiable if the evaluation is up to the mark. After meeting some aspirants, it has been realized that the evaluation in these academies does not match that of the Federal Public Service Commission or the Punjab Public Service Commission. Thus, giving tests is another wasteful and extravagant activity in these academies.

Fourthly, the interview saga. When out of thousands of candidates, 2-3 percent of the candidates make it through the written examinations, the academies again welcome the qualifiers with their arms wide open. Here is the stage where aspirants lose all their originality and are morphed into a hotchpotch of different personalities. What havoc the academies wreak on these adamant yet docile qualifiers is to convince them to adopt those qualities that are liked or likely to be liked by the interview panelists. The qualifiers in their quest for allocation blindly imitate the panellists and those who have got allocation in the previous attempts. They prepare themselves from the exam point of view and forget about their own personality. This is the reason why we see that many capable qualifiers could not get allocated.

Lastly, back to square one. When the half-hearted not-allocated aspirants go back and ask the academies about their non-allocation, they again sell them two things, fear and panacea. The cycle goes on and on until the last attempt.

Many would ask where the myth is. The myth lies in the fact that after every result the academies start portraying themselves as the ambassadors of success and fall into an unending rat race. Though I am not good at numbers, it would help to understand. If on average 10 candidates from an academy get through out of 1500 enrolled, the simple calculation would show 0.67 percent result. What about those who could not succeed? The irony is that those who could not get through would keep injecting finances into the banks of the academies and those who have got through would be considered the booster shots in the form of advertisements to attract more aspirants.

In all this unholy business the aspirant is at the losing end. He loses the originality, the confidence, the ego, the time, the discipline and above all, the honesty. All these traits are deemed to be important to become a good civil servant.

The academies do not play with the emotions of a single candidate but with those of an entire family. For instance,5of there are 40,000 applicants and half of them appear in the exams. More than 80 percent of those appeared have direct or indirect links with the academies. Roughly, these institutions are playing with the emotions and future of 80 percent of the families. This emotional lynching is beyond any cure. Last but not the least, unfortunately, the victims of these academies are the educated and ma be the creative youth which lose all their creative and analytical skills at the hands of these academies.

The need of the hour is that the government needs to take cognizance of the issue which is burgeoning. The fire is kindled and is ready to rise.



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