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IT consultant responsible for the mess up in the result of inter part 1 Lahore

LAHORE Dr Majid Naeem, until recently an IT consultant for the Boards of Intermediateand Secondary Education, was the focus of a judicial commission’s inquiry into the collapse of the intermediate results release system on Saturday, the second day of proceedings.

Several board officials some suspended, some still serving – blamed Naeem for the major errors in the results for the intermediate exams that has delayed the college admissionsprocess, accusing him of negligence and corruption.

Naeem, who was responsible for computerising the process of tabulation and release of results, denied the charges and claimed to have drawn no salary for his work. He was backed only by District Coordination Officer Ahad Cheema, who himself faced heat from the board officials as he was the Higher Education Commission secretary and supervised the process of computerisation.

BISE Examination Controller Anwar Farooq told the commission, which consists of Justice Shahid Saeed, that there were errors in the results of 80,000 of the total 124,653 students who sat the intermediate exams. He said there were 21,770 mistakes made in 764,922 subjective exams, and 143,934 errors in the compilation of the results of 629,895 objective exams. He said responsibility for these errors lay with the IT consultant and the person who hired him.

BISE Chairman Allah Bukhsh submitted that Cheema had hired Naeem and they should both be held responsible. However, Justice Saeed told him to come with his written statement to the next hearing on Monday.

‘Suspended’ BISE chairman Akram Kashmiri said his suspension was unfair as he had no role in the debacle. He said that Naeem was incompetent and couldn’t handle the task of computerising the results process. He said computerisation was an important step forward but the IT consultant had delivered defective software. He said he had repeatedly conveyed his reservations to the authorities concerned verbally but to no avail. Justice Saeed remarked that he should have made a written complaint.

Aslam Gujjar, president of the BISE Employees Union, said that he had warned the board about the faults in the system but been ignored. He presented to the judge a result card for Shehzad Ahmed, a student who committed suicide after learning that he had failed. Gujjar said there were errors in the boy’s result card and he had actually passed the exams.

Naeem told the commission that he had not taken a penny for his services. He said he had in fact paid hundreds of thousands of rupees from his own pocket for the computerisation plan. Justice Shahid asked him for his tax number and his tax returns. Naeem responded that he had paid no tax this year as he had no income.

Cheema said that he had held regular discussions with the consultant about the project and every time he had come away with the impression that Naeem was competent and honest. He said that two previous rounds of exam results had been issued using the software and they had far fewer errors. He blamed board officials for the errors, saying they were trying to prevent the implementation of a new system.

However, Cheema denied that he had hired Naeem, saying he had nothing to do with it.

BISE employees objected, and presented to the judge a copy of a circular issued by the Higher Education Departmentwhich stated that those hindering the process of computerisation would be penalised.

ACE probe
Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) began its own inquiry into the results debacle, but on the basis of an initial inquirythat did not lay blame on.

Shortly after the issue came to light, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif set up a committee headed by the Board of Revenue senior member and including the Chief Minister’s Inspection Team chairman and the Punjab Information Technology Board chairman.

The committee in its report pointed out various discrepancies and shortcomings in the online results system. It said that the enrolment, examination and results system for allintermediate and secondary education boards should be ISO certified. It recommended disciplinary action against a programmer and systems analyst, but found no fault with Dr Naeem.

After getting the committee’s report, the chief minister directed the ACE director general to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the matter. On November 3, the director general set up a committee headed by the ACE Lahore region director with a 30-day deadline to finish its investigation and submit its findings.

An ACE official said, on the condition of anonymity, that their inquiry had already found evidence of irregularities. He said that the Education Department had awarded Dr Naeem the board contract and had paid his firm in advance in the form of mobilisation funds. After the results fiasco, it was discovered that the firm was registered under a false name and its address was not correct.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2011.

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