The unique problem of APSSB

Monday Musing

[ Tongam Rina ]

If there is one organization that has consistently been in the news for all the good and not-so-good reasons, undoubtedly it has to be the Arunachal Pradesh Staff Selection Board (APSSB), the government agency that conducts recruitment examinations of Group C posts.

Less than five years since its inception, the APSSB, known as Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s pet project and definitely one that was set up with good intentions, has been embroiled in numerous controversies.

From cash-for-job scam to inability to attract eligible candidates to shutting down the Internet in all towns where exams are held to stop cheating, it’s been a turbulent ride for the board.

While the board seems to have regained some of the lost trust by conducting exam on time and announcing the results within record time, it is faced with a unique challenge. The board doesn’t seem to be able to find enough candidates to fill the vacancies!

Recently, the board was again in the news for its inability to attract stenographers. Was the software that was used faulty, or were the candidates not trained enough, or were they simply not prepared?

Accepted that stenography is a highly skilled subject; however, it is worrying that only one candidate passed the stenography proficiency test, out of 798 candidates who had appeared for the exam for 89 vacancies.

This is not the first time that the board has been faced with shortage of skilled candidates.

In March last year, only 11 candidates out of 255 could pass the skill test conducted for 93 posts of lower division clerk, junior secretariat assistant, record keeper/record clerk and computer operator.

The skill test consisted of typing at a computer at 35 words per minute and basic computer application test.

Understood that the role of the board is only to recruit the most eligible candidates, but to save itself time and resources, the APSSB can definitely suggest to the government of Arunachal to include stenography and basic computer courses as subjects in its skill development programme. Otherwise, it will continue to waste time and resources in conducting and reconducting exams.

There are thousands of unemployed young people if one looks at the number of applicants, and by the board’s standards, many are unemployable because they don’t have basic computer skills.

The government of Arunachal must look for remedial measures. Definitely, investing in vocational courses is one. If it is running one, it’s not enough, looking at the number of seats not filled.

The board’s inability to find eligible candidates is also a reflection on the quality of education being imparted in the state.

If candidates fail in basic mathematics, English proficiency and typing, it’s a reflection on the education system. How is it acceptable that students who have passed schools and colleges from the state are unemployable in the same state? Merit is all well and good, but what does it say about education that gives emphasis on merit but fails to give skills?

The state government needs to keep up with the board by improving the skills of the people it is educating and looking to hire.