The first day of in-person classes in city schools saw a good turnout of students, while the attendance in educational institutions in rural areas was comparatively low.
Around 70% of students attended classes in city areas on Tuesday following reopening of the schools after 32 days of Covid-led closure, according to the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE).
In rural areas, the presence at schools was less than the city schools, but data was unavailable as the directorate will finalise it on Wednesday.
Foundation School located in the capital's Lalmatia has 36 students in Class X and all of them were present on the first day.
They attended classes with smiling faces as they came to school after a long closure for the pandemic.
The students said they passed their times in frustration during the closure and never want such moments in future.
Azwad Yusha, a student of Foundation School, told The Business Standard, "I am happy today as I met with my friends, teachers and others after a long time. We had a bad time during the school closure because we could not study properly. The school closure hampered our academic activities badly."
At the Foundation School, almost 100% of students were present, but attendance at other city schools was about 70%, according to data from the monitoring and evaluation wing of the DSHE.
Over 200 students have received two doses of Covid vaccine at BKM High School, located at Uttar Batamara in Burhanuddin upazila under the Bhola district. Two third of them attended classes on Tuesday. The school authorities did not allow any student who received one dose of vaccine to attend classes.
Monir Hawlader, the headteacher of BKM High School, told TBS that students' presence at his school was satisfactory on the first day. The number of students will increase day by day.
"We are following health guidelines strictly. We will not allow any students who are not fully vaccinated," he said.
Professor Nehal Ahmed, director general of DSHE, told TBS that they have asked all the schools to take initiatives to bring students to schools. The students' presence at schools in the cities were more than in rural areas on Tuesday. About 70% of students were present at schools in the city areas.
"We will observe the situation for some days and will take further action after getting all the information from the educational institutions," he added.
The Education Ministry sources said, only 34 lakh students have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, while 1.26 crore students have received their first dose of vaccine.
There are around 2 lakh educational institutions in the country, from primary to higher secondary level, with 4.5 crore students and over 12 lakh teachers.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Dipu Moni said the government does not want to shut down the country's educational institutions due to the coronavirus pandemic again.
Dipu Moni urged everyone to strictly maintain the Covid-19 health safety protocols and hygiene rules so that the government does not have to shut down schools again.
Professor Emeritus of Brac University Dr Manzoor Ahmed said the presence of students at the country's higher educational institutions was not satisfactory on the first day of the reopening of institutions.
"The percentage of presence is not good at all. More than 90% of students passed the public examinations. We can say that the students passed with huge learning losses," he added.
This and next year's SSC, HSC, and Primary Education Completion examination candidates will now attend classes six days a week though students will be allowed to stay at school for only four hours.
On the other hand, grade one, two, three, four, six, seven, eight and grade nine students will attend two classes a day every week.
The latest closure of all educational institutions, a second time amid the pandemic, came on 21 January to 6 February, which was later extended till 21 February of this year.
Piloting of new curriculum begins
The Education Ministry has started the piloting of the proposed new competency-based national school curriculum at 62 secondary schools across the country on Tuesday.
The piloting was initially scheduled to begin at 100 primary schools but the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) could not start it due to a delay in budget allocation from the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education.
The ministries will take pointers from the piloting schools and will implement them to other institutions in phases all over the country. They will also train the teachers and government education officials to cope with the new curriculum by 2025.
The new curriculum will emphasise competency rather than theoretical knowledge and that is why the ministry has identified 10 main competencies for students when they pass the 12th grade.
Attending virtually at the inaugural session of the piloting of the proposed new competency-based national school curriculum on Tuesday Dipu Moni said, "The students will learn on their own following the introduction of the new curriculum. The new curriculum will help students to become more proficient, qualified and will develop a sense of humanity in them. We aim to build a peaceful and prosperous Bangladesh."
"I urge all to provide feedback so the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) can formulate the best curriculum for our children," she added.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Nowfel instructed the authorities concerned to implement the new curriculum with "utmost sincerity and responsibility."
Calling on the teachers, he said, "I would like to humbly request them to work hard for a skilled and standard workforce."
As per the government policy, the students of classes 1, 2, 6 and 7 will get new books based on the new curriculum in January 2023 if the piloting brings positive results.
The students of classes 3, 4, 8 and 9 will get books in 2024 and the students of grades 5 and 10 will get new books in January 2025.
The ministry will provide new books to the students of grade 11 in 2026 and grade 12 in 2027. As a result, students will take part in the SSC examinations under the new curriculum from 2026 and the HSC exams from 2028.
The new curriculum from the pre-primary to the higher secondary level in the country will go through massive changes from 2023 – no annual exams up to class 3, no public examination before SSC and no separate streams of education in classes 9-10.