On Monday, a question paper from Pakistan's COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI)was shared on the Internet. It was so embarrassing that even Pakistan's news outlets hardly covered the story even though the incident is from a month ago. A question in the English paper asked students of Bachelor of Electrical Engineering (BEE) to write a 300-word essay on a physical relationship between a brother and a sister.
The question paper, which was shared on Twitter and drew sharp criticism from people, put Pakistan's education stakeholders at shame.
The exam is reported to have taken place on January 5, 2023, where the BEE students were given a comprehension passage in English and they were asked to express their opinion on an incestuous relationship between a brother and a sister. The students were also asked to give "some relevant examples from their own knowledge and opinion".
(maybe the paper-setter had watched a little too much of Game of Thrones, idk...)
The question goes, "Julie and Mark are brother and sister. They are travelling together in France for summer vacation from college. One night they are staying alone in a cabin near the beach. They decide it would be interesting and fun if they tried making love. At the very least, it would be a new experience for them. Julie was already taking birth control pills, and Mark uses a condom to be safe. They both enjoyed making love, but they decide never to do it again. They keep that night as a special secret which makes them even feel closer to each other."
Pakistan: Lecturer asks students to write an essay on.— Faraz Pervaiz (@FarazPervaiz3) February 20, 2023
‘Is it ok for brother-sister to have sex’. pic.twitter.com/IHeruyr2gW
The paper put the question for the students asking, "What do you think about that? Was it ok for them to make love? Give reasons for your answers and include some relevant examples from your own knowledge and personal opinion."
Though the matter was raised in Pakistan's Senate on Monday, February 21, with lawmakers raising their voice against the University's conduct, the CUI released a statement that the matter was already taken note of on January 5, 2023 itself and that the visiting faculty who was responsible for the question paper was terminated and blacklisted from any future employment at CUI.
"The matter, regarding the unethical content of the quiz of the subject, English Comprehension, was reported by the Head, Department of Humanities, CUI Islamabad campus on January 5, 2023. A meeting was convened the same day, under the convenorship of the Rector CUI where it was observed that the contents of the quiz were highly objectionable and unethical," the University said in its statement.
It also said that the "visiting faculty has already confessed [to] the grave mistake and termed it an oversight and has extended apology verbally as well as in writing".
As the matter reached the government, it was referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Education. Senators Mushtaq Ahmed and Dr Zarqa Suhawardy showed concern on the contents of the question paper, saying that it was against social and cultural norms and demanded a proper investigation into the matter.
The issue not only puts esteem of Pakistan's University in the dock but it also puts the country's education system to shame at a time when it has bigger concerns at hand - like the severe economic distress that it is reeling under.