The Sindh government has started considering the option of lowering the minimum passing percentage of 65 per cent to qualify the recently held Medical and Dental Colleges Admission Test (MDCAT) so that the seats in the institutions of medical and dental education in the province shouldn’t remain vacant as happened last year.
This was disclosed by Sindh Health Minister, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, while addressing a press conference here at the Sindh Assembly building on Saturday.
She was flanked at the press conference by Sindh Information and Labour Minister, Saeed Ghani, Sindh Local Government Minister, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, and Parliamentary Secretary for Health in Sindh Assembly Qasim Siraj Soomro.
The Health Minister informed the media persons that the second option under consideration was that the province should conduct the admission test on its own for medical and dental colleges in the province.
She said that the Sindh government had been compelled to consider such options as the last resort keeping in view the fact that the candidates who had appeared in the MDCAT were dissatisfied with the admission test and the concerned students not just of Sindh but that of the other provinces have been protesting against the test system.
She said the Sindh government had been considering the option of preparing on its own the merit lists for admissions to medical and dental colleges of the province as the minimum passing marks would be lowered in view of the availability of seats in these educational institutions.
Dr Pechuho said that preparations of the merit lists on its own would allow the province to fill all the seats in the medical and dental colleges instead of inviting the students from the other provinces to take admission here if these seats remained vacant.
She appealed to the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation, & Coordination, to instantly review the situation concerning the MDCAT in order to protect the academic future of a large number of students in the country.
“We shouldn’t be compelled and pushed to the wall as it is the matter concerning the future of our children as merely acting as a silent spectator in this issue is not an option for us,” she said.
She said the province could also exercise the other option of conducting its own admission test as the last resort despite that exercising such an option would seriously displease the relevant federal health authorities and there was the chance that the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) wouldn’t recognize the system of provincial admission test.
She said the PMC had pursued an ill-advised policy and decided to increase the minimum pass percentage of MDCAT from 60 per cent to 65 per cent since last year despite that there was no need to increase the minimum qualifying marks when the education of students in the colleges had been phenomenally affected during last one year due to anti-coronavirus lockdown regime.
“This unjust decision has darkened the future of our children as their academic career is at stake.
We have written the letter to them to make them understand the genuine problems of our students but they have adamant on this issue,” said the Health Minister while talking about the PMC officials.
She said the province was fully empowered as per the law and constitution to devise its own policy and test system to offer admissions to medical and dental colleges in the province.
Dr Pehuho said that owing to the same unfair system of MDCAT, 492 out of total 600 seats for Bachelor of Dental Surgery education available in the province, had remained vacant last year.
She said that similarly the private medical colleges had total of 2,600 seats as 30 per cent of them had remained vacant last year.
She said the private medical and dental colleges in the province had been left with no option but to offer admissions to students belonging to other provinces to fill these seats.
She said the province would face a shortage of doctors and dentists after four to five years as these non-native students would go back to their home provinces to practice their profession after completing medical or dental education in Sindh.
She said that MDCAT was not conducted on a single day as it was a month-long exercise as all the candidates didn’t get a level playing field while appearing in the pre-admission examination.