CSS 2018 Final Result
The final result for CSS-2018-19 is out, and as per the official notification, 281 candidates, out of 567 who had qualified the written part of the exam, have been allocated to various occupational groups. This year the number of vacancies to be filled on the basis of the final result of CSS 2018 exam was 466, as per FPSC’s Press Note dated 24th of May 2019, and the Commission had a handy lot of 569 candidates to select the most suitable candidates among them for the said posts. This was probably for the first time in many years that the vacancies announced were less than the number of candidates to fill those. For instance, in CSS 2017 examination, against 484 vacancies, there were only 312 candidates. In CSS 2016, too, there were 351 vacancies while the candidates eligible to fill those were only 202. So, this year has seen a healthy development, and the spirit of competition, though to some extent, has been revived.
It is really appreciable that the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) has finally heeded the word of advice we have been giving through the editorial pages of this publication. We have been consistently advocating that the number of candidates who qualify the written part of this most prestigious examination should be more so as to ensure that the FPSC panellists do rigorous mental assessment of the candidates during the interview process. Most recently, while commenting on the written part of CSS 2019 exam, we pleaded with the FPSC in March 2019 issue that the fewer candidates passing the written part, in effect, means the interview process would be lenient because the panellists have to fill as many as vacancies they can. In this way, the concept of merit and competition gets, virtually, buried. So, this, indeed, is a heartening development that a healthy lot of candidates vied for posts in the country’s bureaucracy this year. And, FPSC must be appreciated for giving us this whiff of fresh air.
However, at the same time, we must not forget that this is only the first step in a long journey of reforming the bureaucratic setup of our country. There are many other areas Chairman FPSC, Mr Haseeb Athar, and his team need to focus on now. First of all, the CSS examination system must be made more compatible with the country’s education system. It is a painful reality that the system of higher education in Pakistan is in a state of constant decline. This is evident from the fact that most of the individuals who have won allocations after CSS exam are foreign-qualified – Even this year’s topper, Ms Shanza Faiq, had completed her LLM from the University of Warwick (UK) in 2017. This actually means that our universities have become unable to produce graduates having consummate skills befitting a bureaucrat. Even the FPSC itself has pinpointed exactly that in its Annual Report 2017 saying: “Our universities hardly care about inculcating in them analytical skills. The Commission feels the need for improving competencies of students in general and proficiency in languages (i.e. English as a medium of communication) in specific. Excessive use of computer, auto-spell and grammar-check has somewhat eroded the writing skills of the candidates.” This assertion is also proved by the QS University Rankings for 2020 where no Pakistani university could earn a place among top 350 institutions of higher education worldwide – only two are among the top 400; Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (375) and National University of Science and Technology (400).
Amidst this state of affairs, it is never advisable to set question papers that require analytical skills, argumentative abilities and writing prowess only a highly talented or a foreign-qualified aspirant would possess. Hence, prudence demands that question papers be set keeping in view the abilities of an average aspirant – remember, educational qualification a CSS aspirant is required to have is at least 2nd division bachelor’s degree. Expecting them to possess great acumen in diverse fields of knowledge is literally asking for the moon. The FPSC should take into consideration ground realities in the conduct of CSS exam. There is a pressing need that the process of psychological assessment and interview be made more robust and comprehensive. This is the only way to assess true capabilities and potentials of the aspirants.
The second point of importance to be raised here is the civil service reforms the talks about which are abuzz nowadays. Media reports suggest that the government intends to overhaul the existing structure of the country’s civil service and for that, a task force under the stewardship of Dr Ishrat Husain, former governor State Bank of Pakistan, has presented its recommendation for further discussion in the federal cabinet. The FPSC needs to come forward and clear the air as candidates are in a fix as to what would be the pattern of CSS 2020 exam the schedule for which has already been announced.
In the end, it is apt to state that if the FPSC wants to recruit genuinely talented people, it must make CSS exam more systematic, suave and error-free. Papers should not be something out of this world and the interviewers must have a better, bigger lot of aspirants. Rather than focusing more on candidates’ written scores, more weight should be given to the Psychological Assessment which must be conducted by highly-professional individuals. This is the only way to recruit genuinely-talented persons for the Civil Service of Pakistan.