The education ministry is planning to provide grades to Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examinees through assignment evaluation instead of holding examinations if the Covid-19 situation is not improved.
It has asked the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) to prepare assignment question papers on the basis of the short syllabuses already given to students.
Prof Narayan Chandra Saha, chairman of NCTB, told The Business Standard, "We will hand the question papers over to the ministry and education boards. They will send those to schools for distribution among the students," he said.
Asked how many such question papers will be, he said the textbook board was preparing separate question papers for separate topics, so it would only be able to tell the number after the process would complete.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni at a seminar on Sunday said the government was considering alternative methods to conduct SSC and HSC exams for the current year on the shortened syllabuses.
Sources at the education ministry said schools would receive the assignment question papers from Monday with instructions on how to evaluate the answer scripts. The ministry plans to announce the results before December this year, they said.
Prof Syed Golam Faruk, director general of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education, said all preparations were in place to hold SSC and HSC examinations.
"We definitely will reopen educational institutions and resume classes for SSC and HSC students and hold exams if the virus situation normalizes. But in case if we cannot do that, we have the option to provide grades by evaluating assignment papers," he said.
In 2020, the education ministry prepared HSC results on the basis of the previous SSC and Junior School Certificate results and published them. The year saw a hundred percent pass rate for the first time in Bangladesh.
All students from the primary to the secondary level were also promoted automatically. These students will be promoted this time based on their assignment papers. No grade will be given.
Govt's earlier plan for SSC and HSC examinations
The education ministry had prepared a short syllabus for both the SSC and HSC students.
As per the short syllabuses, 60 days' classes were mandatory for SSC students and 84 days for HSC students.
More than 20 lakh students are registered for SSC exams and more than 13 lakh are expected to be registered for HSC examinations 2021.
For a couple of years before the pandemic, SSC examinations usually kicked off on 1 February and HSC on 1 April. The results were published within 60 days after the completion of the tests.
The country has seen a steady rise in the number of Covid deaths, with 47 more people succumbing to the viral disease in 24 hours until 8:00am on Sunday. The daily death toll was the highest since 9 May.
The positivity rate was 12.99%.
Prof Dr Nazrul Islam, former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and a noted virologist, told The Business Standard that he recommended reopening educational institutions if the infection rate dropped below 5%.
The government on 16 March last year decided to keep all institutions and coaching centres shut from 18 to 31 March for the sake of students' safety from the coronavirus. The government has been extending the time since then as the virus continues to spread.
The last time, the government extended the closure of secondary and higher secondary educational institutions until 30 June.
About 4.5 crore students from the pre-primary to higher-education level are enrolled in nearly two lakh educational institutions across the country.