The report in this newspaper about not even one among 8,000 candidates who appeared for a written test for 80 accountant posts in the directorate of accounts getting qualifying marks has sparked off a debate on a series of subjects: Do graduates coming out of Goa’s colleges lack deep knowledge of their subject and general knowledge? Do they lack the power of reasoning to answer objective questions? Does the state education department need to make training or tutorials for developing students’ ability to answer objective questions a part of degree education? This is not the first time that all the candidates appearing in test for posts of accountants have failed. In 2012, all the 3,500 candidates taking test for recruitment to 25 accountant posts failed. Not long ago, only one of the 4,200 candidates appearing for a test for recruitment of 25 inspectors in the commercial tax department cleared the test. These instances point to one thing in the first place: The candidates do not prepare themselves for competitive examinations.
Goa Public Service Commission (GPSC) chairman José Manuel Noronha blames the education system, which does not foster the local youth’s ability to answer competitive examinations. According to GPSC data, of about 2,600 candidates who appeared for two examinations conducted by it for various posts, only 19 qualified. Of course, as Noronha says, it is not that the Goan graduates lack intelligence and comprehension: they lack in analytical reasoning, knowledge of scientific application and general knowledge including current affairs, which causes their failure.
Most candidates are used to answering questions in the traditional way, which relies on memorizing, leaving them ill-equipped to identify the correct answer among three or four choices in objective papers of the competitive examinations. The cases of mass failings should trigger thinking among school and college students of Goa to prepare themselves rigorously by taking mock objective tests. With employers now preferring to make recruitments through Computer Based Recruitment Test (CBRT) the Goan youth is left with no option but to prepare himself for such examinations.
The state government in general and the educational department in particular have a clear responsibility here to foster competitive talents among students in schools and colleges. They must find ways to create training systems, either outside the existing teaching system or integral to it, to change the students’ attitude to examinations.There are competitive examinations not only for jobs in the state but also countrywide. It has been nearly two decades since a Goan made it to the All India Civil Services. School and college principals should devise classroom tests within the given syllabuses based on objective questions to build up students’ sense of precision.
As students are found lacking in general knowledge and awareness of current affairs, the principals could introduce regular tests for helping them improve their knowledge in these areas too. Reading of newspapers and current affairs magazines should be promoted vigorously in schools and colleges. It is disturbing to hear that the accounts department is thinking of a reevaluation of the answer books of the 8,000 candidates who failed. Such inexplicably indulgent approach will prove damaging to Goan youth. They must be compelled to train and prepare themselves for competitive tests in the future. Fresh examinations must be held for the 80 accountant posts.
Hardly a few of the 60,000 government employees have made it through competitive exams. Most of them got their jobs on the recommendations of ministers and MLAs. If governance is poor in Goa, the blame goes to the politicians who, for getting votes, helped persons from their constituencies get government jobs, regardless of whether they were competent or not. They used the persons they obliged as canvassers during the elections and in many other ways in between elections. Had government recruitments been made on the basis of competitive tests, we would not have seen all the candidates failing in examinations.
The Goan youth would have got used to preparing for competitive examinations. Often the government talked of recruiting subordinate staff through a centralised recruitment process but never seriously moved in this regard. The Subordinate Service Board promised by former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar failed to take off. Obviously, appointments without a competitive test suited the interests of politicians. There was also bribery involved: sometimes politicians demanded a handsome bribe for getting persons recruited in one of the government posts. The practice of recruiting through influence or gratification must end. An unbiased and transparent process would help the government find the best candidates.