There is no need for holding central public exams amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, educationists and policymakers have said.
They came up with the opinion at a virtual event titled "TBS Current Affairs" organised by The Business Standard on Monday.
At the programme, they discussed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the education system and the way out of the crisis.
They said it is not essential to arrange Primary Education Completion (PEC) and Junior School Certificate (JSC) exams this year and students should be graded through the teachers' assessment instead of public exams.
Besides, the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exam can be arranged on a very limited scale.
Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Nowfel, said, "The purpose of the examination is to assess the learning outcome. But after the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exam, the students have to sit for a university admission test. So, what is the value of the HSC exam if every higher educational institution takes a separate admission test?"
He said some countries like the UK are awarding students grades based on a general assessment by the teachers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Educational institutions need to give grades to the students according to the teachers' assessment instead of a public exam now. I think students will not be looser if we take such a decision. But it is not a decision yet, just my opinion," he added.
Dr Manzoor Ahmed, professor emeritus at Brac University, said, "Teaching students is the important thing, not the exams. We have to be flexible and avoid traditional thinking about the public exams at this moment."
He further said, "There is no need for PEC and JSC exams this year. It would not be a big problem if we do not take these exams. The educationists and experts have consensus on the issue."
Regarding the HSC exam, he said, "We can think of taking the HSC exam on a limited scale with few basic subjects. That means we can decrease the assessment marks of the exams, exclude some subjects and avoid practical exams along with taking some other similar measures."
Higher educational institutions fail to utilise online infrastructure
The deputy minister for education said conducting higher education through information technology has become an old issue all over the world. But our higher educational institutions have not yet reached an expected level to conduct online classes or to provide digital content despite having the infrastructure and internet facilities.
He said, "When we raised the issue of IT-based education amid the pandemic, some reputed universities opined that it is not possible to do that here for different causes. However, the private universities have come ahead in this regard as there are some financial issues."
"It is the problem of mentality and accountability. We got allegations from the students that some teachers finished the full course of a semester just within a week. There are also some issues regarding tutorials," he mentioned.
Dr Manzoor Ahmed, said, "We should involve the teachers and guardians formally with the process of distance education to raise awareness and effectiveness of the system."
He urged the government to provide financial assistance under the stimulus package for the teachers and staff affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The minister said they are considering the issue gradually on humanitarian grounds.
Both of the speakers emphasised vocational, technical and online-based education.
Veteran Journalist JE Mamun moderated the programme.