Around 1.61 lakh students have achieved GPA-5 in Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) 2020 and its equivalent examinations – a more than three-fold increase than in the previous year – made possible as the government could not hold tests amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Such a move also ensured a 100% pass rate for the first time in Bangladesh's history, allowing 13,67,286 HSC and its equivalent examinees to qualify in the examinations. The results will, however, will put a serious qualitative burden on public, private and vocational higher education institutions across the country.
Pointing out that institutions will not be able to evaluate these students based on just exam results and when students outnumber the available seats, noted educationists have recommended holding written admission tests to get good students and ensure quality higher education.
Moreover, 396 students who achieved GPA-5 in both the Junior School Certificate (JSC) and Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations, did not get GPA-5 this year.
Prof Nehal Ahmed, convener of Inter-Education Board Coordination sub-committee, explained that students who had achieved GPA-5 in JSC and SSC with the help of fourth subjects did not get GPA-5 at the 2020 HSC exams.
Curiously enough, 17,043 students who did not get GPA-5 in the SSC and JSC results managed to secure the highest grade point average in the latest HSC and its equivalent examinations.
Manzurul Kabir, senior system analyst of the Dhaka Education Board, clarified that students who managed to get 80 or above in selected subjects such as mathematics had achieved GPA-5 in the 2020 HSC exams.
Speaking to The Business Standard, noted educationist Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam said, "The universities should introduce written admission tests to scrutinise the aspirants for new enrollment under the 2021-21 academic session.
"Most of the universities hold admission tests using the MCQ system, but this process is wrong. The universities must disregard the numbers on the SSC and HSC results during admission."
He added, "It might not be possible to hold written admission tests with full marks. The universities can take a 40% written and 60% MCQ test this year.
"I know many students who did not have good results in the SSC and HSC exams, but they did better in their university education. A good number of meritorious students will be deprived if the SSC and HSC results are considered in the admission process this year."
On the issue, Professor Emeritus of Brac University Dr Manzoor Ahmed said, "The higher educational institutions, especially the reputed ones, should put more emphasis on admission tests and viva voce to enroll new students for honours courses under the 2020-21 session.
"The numbers on the SSC and HSC results should be ignored during the admission test this year to find out meritorious students for enrollment. Otherwise, quality education will be hampered as some disqualified students will have the chance to get admission at good institutions."
The competition to get admission at reputed public and private universities will be fierce as all GPA-5 holders will apply for admission, he added.
The results of last year's HSC and its equivalent examinations were published at Segunbagicha's International Mother Language Institute in the capital. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the results through videoconferencing from Ganabhaban.
Besides, Education Minister Dipu Moni received a summary of the HSC results from the chairmen of the education boards on behalf of the prime minister the same day. A stop-gap system of assessing the scores of the candidates' JSC and SSC exams was used to determine the HSC results.
Explaining the subject mapping method, Dipu Moni said the SSC results were weighted at 75% on the basis of averaging the scores in three subjects – depending on the group, while the JSC scores in the same subjects accounted for 25% of the final HSC grade for 2020.
About 8 lakh students have the scores to apply to reputed universities for admission in the honours courses under the 2020-21 academic session, but there are only 1.50 lakh seats at the those institutions.
The present situation indicates that the admission process this year will be extremely competitive.
Last year's HSC tests were scheduled to be held from 1 April at over 9,063 educational institutions under 11 education boards – eight general boards, one madrasah board and one technical education board.
But the government later decided not to hold the tests due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The authorities decided to publish the results on the basis of students' Junior School Certificate (JSC) and Secondary School Certificate (SSC) scores instead.
On 24 January, Parliament paved the way for the publication of the results of the Higher Secondary Certificate and equivalent examinations through the passage of three bills.