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Regulating Testing Services in Pakistan for Promoting Meritocracy

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Testing and assessment services are rampant in Pakistan as most of Public and Private Sector recruitment is done through these  Testing services. These Testing services are also entrusted with the duty of conducting Admission, Scholarship and Entry tests of Undergraduate, Graduate, Post Graduate, MBBS, BDS, BE and other related degrees.

Though the testing services have brought innovation and transparency in public and private sector recruitments, yet these testing services are questioned for declaring favorable results to those on the basis of  So-called Corruption in the test results and announcing desirable results in the favour of candidates.

The  Testing services  such as  National Testing Services  (NTS) , Pakistan Testing services (PTS) , Open Testing Services (OTS) , Universal testing services (UTS)  Sukkur IBA Testing Service  (STS) , Quality Testing services (QTS) , Baluchistan Testing Services (BTS ) are the few notable testing services operating in Pakistan .

NTS, PTS and OTS have  frequently been contracted Testing services since most of the Public and private sector Organization utilize their services for conducting recruitment, scholarship, admission and entry tests.

NTS leads the testing services as frequently contracted Testing service by all the federal  Provincial Governments for the Posts from Grade 1 to 17.One  still wonders that how  these  testing services are conducting Assessment Tests  for the Posts of Grade 16 and Grade 17 when we already  have  Public service commission at Federal Level and Provincial  Public service Commissions functioning in each province and the State of Azad Jammu & Kashmir to carry out recruitment from grade 16 and above upon the requisitions received from various  Government Departments at Federal  and Provincial Level .

The recruitment policy notified by the PSC’s clearly mentions that recruitment for the Posts of grade 16 and above to be carried out by FPSC at Federal Level and Provincial PSC’s at Provincial Level except Posts in President’s Secretariat ,DG ISPR or ISI etc.

We have seen in the past that these Testing services were contracted on the basis of benefiting their favourite whereas, the talented and deserving candidates were deliberately deprived of the right of jobs.

These Testing services mostly hire the Paper setters outside of their organization domain and provide swapped /jumbled coloured booklets to the candidates at the time of Interviews. The paper quality of some testing services is usually not at par with the level of recruitment or post and creates confusion amongst the candidates regarding the tests. For example, NTS mostly conducts entry test for the MBBS in various provinces including Sindh and Punjab.

A handsome amount is accrued from the students on the pretext of Admission and Processing fee that is unjust and an attempt to blatant earning from these collections.

What disturbs the students most that are leakage of paper during the night through social Media channels i.e Whatsapp raising enormous questions over the credibility of these Tests and testing services….?

Last year, such controversy surrounded the NTS when some of the students of MBBS Entry Test complained to the court and protested against the NTS for Leakage the paper on Whatsapp one hour prior to the test thus paving the way for ineligible candidates to the Professional Education of Medical Science.

Hundreds of Students took to the streets and started chanting slogans against NTS and demanded to reconduct entry test in a transparent manner and at the same time. Earlier the test was conducted separately in various Districts in phases that made the result suspicious and questionable.

In the meantime, NAB raided the NTS headquarters and took the record into their custody. All the newspapers carried the news that due to Entry Test paper Leakages and Key distribution to the students on the basis of corruption was the cause of NAB’s raid.

The Personnel of high ranks at NTS Headquarters denied such raid even the NAB rejected such claims of the raid on NTS headquarters. Well, the drama continued since it was ascertained that an NTS staffer or Test Supervisory or Invigilation staff had leaked the paper with answer key to help their own close relatives to be the future doctors.

In this whole drama, The health departments of the respective provinces remained calm and mum over the issue until the Sindh High court took the issue after hearing the complaints of affectees but court works on the basis of evidence and the same happened there .

The Provincial Health Minister on the directives of  CM Sindh  announced cancellation of Test and asked the DUHS (Dow University of Health Sciences) Karachi to reconduct the test instead of NTS .

Hearing the announcement, the candidates, who had passed the test, rushed to the court and prayed to the court to restore the same result as they told the honorable court that the test was conducted transparently and the results were declared on merit. The complainants could not prove the leakage of the Answer key and paper, thus the court ordered to restore the Test Result and directed the medical colleges to proceed with the admission process.

Such huge controversies are always attached with NTS warranting the government to regulate these testing services and establish Testing Services Regulatory Authority (TSRA) to keep a check on various recruitment tests that are being conducted in public Sector or Private sector especially the Medical College Entrance Tests conducted by NTS throughout the country this year.

Though, Higher Education Commission introduced its own brand namely “Education Testing Council and announced to conduct all Medical and Engineering colleges admission tests through Education Testing council free of Cost as The Traditional testing services charge huge amounts from candidates as processing fees. This gave, to some extent, a sigh of relief to students that at least a uniform educational testing may replace these testing traditional services. Though ETC of HEC conducted the tests for Federal Educational institutes but unfortunately several Provincial Governments especially Sindh and Punjab once again followed the same practice and once again contracted the NTS to conduct the Medical College Entry Tests in Sindh and Punjab despite its controversial past experiences that furthered the woes of the bright and dedicated students who could be instrumental in bringing innovations in Medical science. But ,with announcement of NTS conducting Medical Entry Test, has shattered  the dreams of hundreds of students .

The PMDC and PEC must come forward and raise their reservations against the Testing services that are engaged in this lucrative business and looting people with both hands due to their evil designs of making money and destroying the very fabric of Medical education. Even the selection of teachers through NTS in Sindh, Punjab and KPK was marked with irregularities.

It is high time for the Government to mull over the issue and establish the Testing Services Regulatory board or Authority immediately so that rampant irregularities and corruption in these testing services may easily be curbed.

Regulating all Testing Services operating in Pakistan will lead to transparency and promotion of merit in each of their contracted projects. There is also a need of reviewing their past performance and ranking of their services in Categories. If any testing service hits below the belt then that Testing service may be blacklisted and banned for future contracts or projects.

We need to build standards in the Educational and Professional testing system as we need to create testing services like ETS  global  which prefers online testing technology, Video Interviews through Skype   and Auto marking software  to check the answerer sheets and announce results within hours.

The Testing services need to restructure their testing model and set the papers matching the job description of the post. This will  be beneficial for the company hiring through these testing services as they would have qualified candidate as per requirements.

There is also need to speed up the process of recruitments in public sector through the public service commission at Federal and Provincial level since it takes almost a year for the selection of suitable candidate undergoing Screening Tests, interviewing, Psychological testing and final recommendation.

This whole process affects the performance of the organizations submitting their requisitions for various posts as they will have to wait for almost a year till the availability of the suitable candidates qualifying all the phases of recruitment from Screening to Recommendation.

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Unveiling the Digital Evolution: Web2 vs. Web3 – Understanding the Shift Towards Decentralization and Blockchain

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Introduction:

The transition from Web2 to Web3 marks a significant paradigm shift in the ever-evolving Internet landscape. Web2, characterized by centralized platforms like Facebook and Google, is giving way to Web3, a new era embracing decentralization and blockchain technology. This article delves into the differences between Web2 and Web3, exploring the implications of this digital evolution on our online experiences and interactions.

Understanding Web2:

Web2, the current internet era, is dominated by centralized platforms that control and shape our online activities. Companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon have established themselves as giants, offering services that rely on centralized servers and databases to function. Users interact with these platforms through interfaces designed and controlled by the companies, giving rise to concerns over data privacy, censorship, and control.

The Rise of Web3:

Web3 represents a departure from the centralized model of Web2, embracing decentralization and blockchain technology. In Web3, users have greater control over their data and digital identities, thanks to decentralized networks that operate without a central authority. Blockchain, the underlying technology powering Web3, enables secure and transparent transactions, smart contracts, and decentralized applications (dApps).

Key Differences Between Web2 and Web3:

Centralization vs. Decentralization:

One of the fundamental distinctions between Web2 and Web3 is the approach to centralization. Web2 relies on centralized servers and platforms controlled by a single entity, while Web3 operates on decentralized networks where power is distributed among participants. This shift towards decentralization in Web3 promotes transparency, security, and user empowerment.

Data Ownership and Privacy:

In Web2, users often surrender their data to centralized platforms, which can lead to privacy concerns and data breaches. Web3, on the other hand, prioritizes data ownership and privacy by leveraging blockchain technology to give users control over their personal information. This shift empowers individuals to manage and monetize their data securely.

Trust and Security:

Centralized platforms in Web2 require users to trust the platform provider with their data and transactions. In Web3, trust is established through decentralized consensus mechanisms, such as blockchain’s immutability and transparency. This enhanced security model in Web3 reduces the risk of fraud, censorship, and manipulation, fostering a more trustworthy digital environment.

Implications of Web3 Adoption:

Decentralized Finance (DeFi):

Web3 has paved the way for decentralized finance (DeFi) applications that offer financial services without intermediaries. DeFi platforms leverage blockchain technology to enable peer-to-peer transactions, lending, borrowing, and trading, revolutionizing the traditional financial sector.

NFTs and Digital Ownership:

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have gained popularity in the Web3 space, allowing users to tokenize and trade unique digital assets. From digital art to virtual real estate, NFTs enable creators to establish ownership rights and monetize their creations securely and transparently.

Decentralized Social Networks:

Web3 is fostering the development of decentralized social networks that prioritize user privacy, content ownership, and censorship resistance. These platforms aim to empower users by giving them control over their data and interactions, challenging the centralized model of social media in Web 2.

Conclusion:

The transition from Web2 to Web3 represents a transformative shift in the digital landscape, emphasizing decentralization, blockchain technology, and user empowerment. As we embrace the principles of Web3, we are moving towards a more transparent, secure, and inclusive Internet ecosystem that prioritizes data ownership, privacy, and trust. By understanding the differences between Web2 and Web3, we can navigate this digital evolution with awareness and adaptability, shaping the future of the Internet for generations to come.

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LinkedIn Lays Off 668 Employees Amid Slowing Hiring Activity

Introduction In a move that reflects the broader economic downturn, LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking site, announced the layoff of 668 employees across its engineering, talent, and finance teams. This second round of job cuts in 2023 comes as the company faces a slowdown in hiring activity and a decline in advertising revenue. Impact […]

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Introduction

In a move that reflects the broader economic downturn, LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional networking site, announced the layoff of 668 employees across its engineering, talent, and finance teams. This second round of job cuts in 2023 comes as the company faces a slowdown in hiring activity and a decline in advertising revenue.

Impact of Layoffs

The layoffs, affecting more than 3% of LinkedIn’s global workforce, are a significant blow to the company and its employees. The affected individuals will undoubtedly face challenges in finding new employment amidst a tightening job market.

Reasons for Layoffs

Several factors have contributed to LinkedIn’s decision to reduce its workforce. The company cited a slowdown in hiring activity, a decline in advertising revenue, and the need to streamline operations to remain competitive in a challenging economic environment.

Wider Implications

The layoffs at LinkedIn are not an isolated incident. The technology sector, in general, has been experiencing a wave of job cuts as companies grapple with economic uncertainty and shifting market conditions. This trend is likely to continue in the near future, posing challenges for both employers and employees in the tech industry.

LinkedIn’s Response

LinkedIn has acknowledged the impact of the layoffs on its employees and has committed to providing them with severance packages and outplacement services. The company has also expressed its intention to continue investing in its core business and to emerge stronger from this period of economic uncertainty.

Conclusion

The layoffs at LinkedIn serve as a reminder of the volatile nature of the tech industry and the broader economy. While the company faces immediate challenges, it remains optimistic about its long-term prospects and is committed to adapting to the changing landscape.

FAQs

Q: How many employees were laid off by LinkedIn?

A: LinkedIn laid off 668 employees, representing more than 3% of its global workforce.

Q: Which departments were affected by the layoffs?

A: The layoffs primarily impacted LinkedIn’s engineering, talent, and finance teams.

Q: What are the reasons for the layoffs?

A: LinkedIn attributed the layoffs to a slowdown in hiring activity, a decline in advertising revenue, and the need to streamline operations in a challenging economic environment.

Q: How will the layoffs affect the company and its employees?

A: The layoffs will undoubtedly impact LinkedIn’s operations and morale, while the affected employees will face challenges in finding new employment.

Q: What is LinkedIn doing to support the laid-off employees?

A: LinkedIn is providing severance packages and outplacement services to assist the affected employees in their job search.

Q: What are the broader implications of the layoffs in the tech industry?

A: The layoffs at LinkedIn reflect a wider trend of job cuts in the tech sector as companies adapt to economic uncertainty and shifting market conditions.

Q: What is LinkedIn’s outlook for the future?

A: Despite the immediate challenges, LinkedIn remains optimistic about its long-term prospects and is committed to adapting to the changing economic landscape.

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Closure of Microsoft’s Activision Deal Approaches as British Approval Nears

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Introduction

In a groundbreaking move that could reshape the landscape of the gaming industry, Microsoft is closing in on a deal to acquire Activision Blizzard, one of the world’s largest and most influential video game companies. This monumental acquisition has been making headlines worldwide, and the recent signal of approval from Britain has added a significant chapter to the unfolding story.

With an ever-growing appetite for gaming content and an expanding portfolio of successful gaming-related ventures, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision is poised to be a game-changer. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the details of this historic deal, its potential impact on the gaming industry, and what it means for gamers and investors alike.

The Microsoft-Activision Deal: A Closer Look

Microsoft’s pursuit of Activision Blizzard has been anything but subtle. The tech giant, known for its Windows operating system, Xbox gaming consoles, and cloud services, has been on a mission to bolster its presence in the gaming world. The proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a gaming behemoth responsible for iconic titles like “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft,” and “Candy Crush,” represents a significant step towards achieving this goal.

As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, the deal was valued at a staggering $68.7 billion. However, keep in mind that figures might have evolved since then, as such deals tend to be dynamic and subject to regulatory approvals.

The British Regulatory Signal

One of the crucial developments in this ongoing saga was the signal of approval from Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). In February 2023, the CMA announced that it had no competition concerns regarding the proposed acquisition. This decision is pivotal, as it indicates a significant step towards the deal’s completion.

The CMA’s approval comes after months of rigorous scrutiny, where they assessed the potential impacts of the merger on competition in the gaming industry. The fact that Britain, a major player in the global gaming market, has signalled approval underscores the deal’s global implications.

Why This Deal Matters

  1. Consolidation of Power: The gaming industry has witnessed a trend of consolidation in recent years, with big players acquiring smaller studios and publishers. Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is arguably the most significant move in this direction, giving them even more control over a vast array of popular gaming franchises.
  2. Content Is King: In today’s gaming landscape, content is king. Microsoft is not just acquiring a company; it’s acquiring a treasure trove of iconic game franchises. “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft,” and “Candy Crush” are household names in gaming, and they have the potential to be leveraged across various Microsoft platforms and services.
  3. Expanding the Xbox Ecosystem: Microsoft’s Xbox ecosystem is about more than just gaming consoles; it encompasses PC gaming, cloud gaming via Xbox Cloud Gaming (formerly known as Project xCloud), and Xbox Game Pass. The acquisition of Activision Blizzard adds a plethora of content to this ecosystem, making it even more attractive to gamers.
  4. Competition and Regulatory Scrutiny: The gaming industry is no stranger to regulatory scrutiny. As gaming companies grow in size and influence, concerns about competition, consumer rights, and data privacy become more pronounced. The CMA’s decision to approve the Microsoft Activision deal is a significant marker in the ongoing conversation about regulating the gaming industry.
  5. Impact on Competitors: The Microsoft-Activision deal could have far-reaching consequences for competitors like Sony, Nintendo, and other major gaming studios. It could lead to more exclusive titles for Xbox platforms, potentially tilting the balance in the console wars.

Impact on Gamers

For gamers, this acquisition raises a myriad of questions and possibilities. Here are some key aspects to consider:

  1. Exclusive Titles: Historically, exclusive titles have been a major driver of console sales. With Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, we could see more iconic franchises becoming Xbox exclusives. This could be a double-edged sword, offering exciting content to Xbox gamers but potentially leaving others in the cold.
  2. Cross-Platform Play: Microsoft has been a proponent of cross-platform play, allowing gamers on different consoles and PCs to play together. This acquisition might further push this agenda, leading to a more interconnected gaming world.
  3. Subscription Services: Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service that offers access to a vast library of games, could benefit immensely from the addition of Activision’s titles. Gamers may see more blockbuster titles available through this service, providing incredible value for subscribers.
  4. Innovation: With Microsoft’s deep pockets and commitment to innovation, we might see advancements in gaming technology and experiences. Cloud gaming, virtual reality, and augmented reality are all areas that Microsoft has been exploring, and the acquisition of Activision could accelerate these endeavours.
  5. Long-Term Impact: While this deal may lead to exciting developments in the short term, gamers should also consider the long-term effects. How will the industry evolve, and how will this deal shape the gaming landscape for years to come?

Impact on Investors

Investors, too, are closely watching this deal and its potential repercussions. Here are some points to consider:

  1. Stock Market Dynamics: The stock prices of both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have been affected by news and developments related to this acquisition. Investors need to keep a close eye on market trends and expert analyses to make informed decisions.
  2. Potential for Growth: If the acquisition is successful, Microsoft’s gaming division could experience significant growth. This could be reflected in the company’s stock performance and dividends.
  3. Risks and Uncertainties: Like any major acquisition, this deal comes with risks and uncertainties. Regulatory hurdles, integration challenges, and market dynamics could impact the investment’s success.
  4. Diversification: For investors with holdings in the gaming industry, this acquisition could lead to a more concentrated portfolio. Diversification strategies may need to be adjusted accordingly.
  5. Industry Trends: This deal is a reflection of broader trends in the technology and entertainment industries. Understanding these trends can help investors anticipate future opportunities and challenges.

Conclusion

Microsoft’s imminent acquisition of Activision Blizzard is a game-changing development in the gaming industry. The recent signal of approval from Britain’s CMA is a significant step towards the deal’s completion, but it’s not the end of the story. The impact of this acquisition will reverberate through the gaming world, affecting gamers, investors, competitors, and the industry as a whole.

As the gaming industry continues to evolve, it’s crucial for all stakeholders to stay informed and adapt to the changing landscape. The Microsoft-Activision deal is just one chapter in the ongoing saga of innovation, competition, and creativity that defines the world of gaming. How this story unfolds will be watched with bated breath by millions of gamers and investors worldwide, eager to see what the future holds for their favourite pastime and its key players.

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