The third and fourth year students of government and private medical colleges are worried about their academic life as the Directorate General of Medical Education (DGME) is yet to take a decision to resume the in-person classes.
The health ministry has already resumed the in-person classes for the first, second and fifth year students of all the government and private medical colleges.
The third and fourth year medical students said they mostly studied the theoretical aspects of their curriculum in their first and second year classes and now they need practical classes, which are called "clinical classes," to build a strong foundation for advanced learning.
On condition of anonymity, a third year student of Barishal Sher-E-Bangla Medical College told The Business Standard that he was a second year student when the educational institutions were shut down in March last year. He took part in the online classes when the college remained closed and sat for the examination in January this year. But he was deprived of the practical classes during that period.
"It is important that we attend in-person classes now. It will be our loss if the authorities delay in resuming the classes," he said.
Wishing anonymity, a Dhaka Medical College student told TBS, "All the educational institutions, including the public and private universities, have reopened. But I don't understand why the classes for the third and fourth year medical students are still closed. It will be tough to recover our learning losses in future."
Dhaka Medical College Principal Professor Dr Md Titu Miah told TBS that delaying the resumption of thirds and fourth year classes might hamper the students' academic life but the colleges cannot restart those classes without the health ministry's approval.
"Delay in resuming the classes should not worry the students much as we can recover the learning losses by taking extra classes. Actually, the third and fourth year students will have to concentrate on clinical classes. So they must be more attentive after their classes are resumed," he said.
Dr AHM Enayet Hussain, director general of DGME, said they have sent letters to the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 for their advice on resuming the classes that are still closed.
"We know that the clinical class is important for the medical students. But now we have to depend on the committee's decision. I think we can start it soon," he said.
Around 1.5 lakh students are studying at different government and private medical colleges and nursing institutes. Their onsite education has remained halted for one-and-a-half years due to Covid-19 restrictions, although online classes were continued.
Remedial packages for medical students
Dr AHM Enayet Hussain said the ministry has directed the medical colleges to recover the learning losses of the students.
The medical colleges have already started taking a series of practical classes from 13 September for the first, second and fifth year students with the aim to recover learning losses caused by closure of colleges due to the Covid-19 pandemic which started in March 2020.
They have also taken a plan to take such classes for the third and fourth year students after restarting their classes.
In the pre-Covid-19 period, the medical colleges conducted practical classes for two or three hours a week for first and second year students. Fifth year students were scheduled to engage in practical work for four hours every day.
The new strategy called the "Remedial Package" will increase the daily work hours and help students reach expected competencies in practical knowledge.
Directorate General of Medical Education sources said almost 90% of teachers, students and staff of the medical educational institutions were brought under Covid-19 vaccination coverage.
The health ministry has instructed the authorities of all medical educational institutions to complete the vaccination of the teachers, students and staff on a priority basis.
As per the guidelines, the hostels of the institutions must reopen for the students three days before the classes begin, everyone must follow the strict health guideline, classes and times can be reduced and in-person and online classes are to be continued.