ISLAMABAD: Members of the Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services (NHS) on Tuesday grilled Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) over the controversial Medical and Dental Colleges Admission Test (MDCAT).
The meeting was presided over by PTI Senator Mohammad Hamayun Mohmand in a committee room of the Parliament House.
Senator Prof Dr Mehr Taj Roghani said she had no doubts about the intention of the PMC but had objections over the procedure.
“There were out of course questions in MDCAT, but you said that additional marks were given to students. I want to ask under what criterion additional marks were awarded,” Senator Roghani said, adding that change should not be imposed at once rather it should be brought with the passage of time and by preparing minds of people.
Senator Mohmand says test was controversial as it was held on different days; Senator Roghani insists change should not be imposed at once
Earlier, PMC President Dr Arshad Taqi said efforts were made to ensure that students had the knowledge about medical colleges and education.
“Intention was to make sure that students prepared for the admission to a medical college rather than pass the exam. It was a computer-based exam and in medical college no student can say that he did not read the topic. The court had allowed single test of each student and one additional test was allowed for those who were infected with Covid-19. MDCAT was of an international level,” he said.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Rubina Khalid disagreed with the presentation of the PMC and said the commission admitted that there were flaws in the test, which was why additional marks were awarded. She said merit should have been ensured because children of poor people can only become doctors through merit.
Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Senator Sardar Mohammad Shafiq Tareen asked about the private company that held the MDCAT and criticised the fact that each student was charged Rs6,000 for appearing in the test.
The committee chairman said the test was controversial as it was held on different days rather than on a single day however the PMC president said the matter was in court so the committee should wait for the decision.
It is worth mentioning here that, according to the PMC Conduct of Examinations Regulations 2021, the syllabus for MDCAT exam shall not be bound to any textbook or HSSC board syllabus and questions in each exam paper will be randomly selected from the examination question bank. Furthermore, no person shall have the right to object to the questions contained in the examination or the correct answers.
The private company through which the test was conducted was registered with the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) well after the due date of filing bids. On the other hand, PMC has also been facing allegations that it released advance payment of over Rs115 million to the company.
The Lahore High Court (LHC), on Aug 17, stopped PMC from paying further funds to the company but PMC paid Rs86 million to the company on Aug 31. LHC had referred the matter to the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) for investigation, which in its report stated that the way this contract was awarded to the private company was in violation of rules. It also declared, against the stance of PMC, that the amount received from candidates was public fund.
On the other hand, PMC has claimed that a record number of 202,065 students registered for the exam out of which 194,108 students took it from Aug 30 to Oct 2. A further 729 students, who could not appear in the exam before due to being diagnosed with Covid-19 or dengue, were scheduled to take it on Oct 9, 2021.
The MDCAT was conducted in 22 cities in 25 examination centres across Pakistan and six international locations in Chicago, Doha, Dubai, London, Riyadh and Toronto.
Protest by Pims doctors
Meanwhile, the staff of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) on Tuesday participated in a protest demanding that the Covid-19 allowance should be given to them.
Employees were of the view that postgraduate and trainee doctors should be given Covid-19 allowance but their names were not included in the list.