Sorry about the title in this new post. Penilaian Tahap Kompetensi (PTK) in english means Competency Level Evaluation. It is a Government’s idea of assessing the competency of the civil servants. It is a part of the evaluation conducted on civil servants to assess their competencies. Since 2003, every civil servant who wanted to move up the rungs of the managerial ladder had to attend PTK course. Personally I do not mind attending the course, unfortunately several components of the course would give the average civil servant like me sheer heart attack.
As part of the course, each participant had to prepare a twenty-page academic essay. The title is provided a month before attending the course and the written assgnment must be submitted during the registration of the week long course. And you had the present the gist of your assignment to the participants. Many would have no qualms about that, but you have to do so not only to the participants but also to a team of grim- looking evaluators who would sit in front of you like judges of a school debate. The unnerving part is to present your case within 10 minutes. Anything more or less than that would render deduction of the marks. Most of the judges just sit there glumly staring at you as if you are being tried for a heinous crime. No hint of a smile, just plain stern stare. For some people 10 minutes feels like an hour!
As if that was not enough of mental torture, we had to undergo similar exercise later but this time you had to speak in English entirely. No written texts allowed. Topic was chosen on the registration day. Off the cuff stuff only. You could use cue cards but no reading of texts. To make matters worst i saw some judges, especially the time keeper (also part of the evaluating team) lapsed into micro sleeps and what should be 10 minutes sometimes dragged to 15mins. I can see the sheer excruciating torture of those who speaks English only on their last PTK exercise. But credit must be given to those who took pains to memorise the scripts – the whole ten minutes. I think it would surely help if we can see a friendly smile from the judges but I might as well be blind. Fortunately yours truly did not find the exercise too much of torture but a hassle. Hassle in the sense that the rules are so rigid. Exceed 10 minutes, you are penalised. Less than eight minutes, you are penalised. No introduction, you are penalised. Contents less than five points, you are penalised. No conclusion, you are penalised. I felt like a schoolboy in a debating team. I thought the whole idea about this public speaking exercise is to gauge the ability of the speaker to articulate in English. Contents are irrelevant. What matters are grammar, pronunciation, articulation and intelligibility.
Personally, I think the worst part is the exam at the final day of the course. Most of the questions dwell on the ‘how’ of the Government policies and strategies were being implemented. It was really a test on how well you can implement government policies. Typical civil servants mentality development exercise. No questions that invoke the analytical nuances on the why such and such policies were necessary or could we improve on them. The obsession with the “how” were somewhat in tandem with the contents of the lectures. Speaking of the lectures, they were conducted by retired high ranking officers of the Ministry. Being retired, some of the points were a bit jaded and dated. No doubt they are superbly rich in experience but they were rather thin on current or even future management techniques and educational futures. Nobody speaks on future challenges facing the managers of the educational institutions. Nobody speaks on schools of the 21st century. Nobody speaks on management of schools using ICT, let alone speaks on ICT informed management decisions.
Coming back to the final exam, I found it really weird that some people go the extend of forming study groups to discuss possible exam questions!!! Spot questions!!! and how to structure answers!!! Apalling is an understatement. As managers we are supposed to grasp the concept and try them in practice in real life, not to study them just to pass some damn silly PTK exam!. No wonder the examination oriented mentality is so thick among our society, going by my experience at the PTK course, the educational managers are partly to blame. Some of those who pass with flying colours would be promoted and they may not be the best managers in practice but the best exam takers. The whole idea of equating ability with exam results just do not jive, more so at the managerial level. Just for the record, I did not think I do too well as I had problems interpreting the questions. To me they were all pointing to same few words – integrity, excellence, and quality. And I had problems writing long essays on those three points. Two and a half hours of writing in long hand really something I have not done for many many moons now.