O, A-level exams: Fear of Covid-19, poor results grips students
A student has filed a writ petition seeking a stay order on the examinations
Abdur Rahman, an A-level examinee, could not prepare for examinations as he failed to learn properly through online classes.
As his school has been closed since February, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, he could not take part in practical classes.
Now, he fears he will not get the desired grade, and might even fail in the upcoming examinations scheduled to start on October 1.
He is also afraid of contracting Covid-19 at the exam centre, which may affect his whole family.
Like Rahman, a majority of the 5,200 A-level exam candidates in the country are afraid of getting poor scores if they have to sit for the exams.
They said that their life will be in peril if they are infected with the novel coronavirus or get poor grades.
Zisan, a private candidate for A-level exams, told The Business Standard, "The British Council announced the date suddenly. We are unprepared to sit for the examinations right now."
"The British Council did not even provide us a clear message. What will be the fate of the students infected with the novel coronavirus? It is unclear. So, we want the examinations to be cancelled."
A-level exams under Cambridge International are scheduled to start on October 1, and those under Pearson will commence four days later.
Meanwhile, Pearson's O-level exams are set to start on November 2 and those of Cambridge on November 5.
Earlier in August this year, Cambridge International instructed teachers throughout the world to submit predicted results, and then it calculated the final grades. The teachers submitted results based on predicted grades and previous academic records.
Meanwhile, an A-level student filed a writ petition with the High Court on Sunday, seeking its order on the government to postpone the upcoming Ordinary (O) and Advanced (A)-level examinations.
The plaintiff, Tamanna Tabassum, told The Business Standard that they could not prepare for the examinations as their classes have been closed for the last six months.
Additionally, many of the O and A-level exam candidates have not received their admit cards for attending the exams, she said.
The O and A-level examinees have been demonstrating for the past several days, demanding cancellation of the examinations. They also arranged a press conference and sought the prime minister's intervention in this regard.
Guardians and teachers of the English-medium students also believe that the examinees are not prepared to take part in the examinations at this time. They said online education cannot be the substitute for an in person education.
Noting that online classes have failed to provide a proper education to students, Yasmeen Habib, vice-principal, Sunnydale, said there are large differences between an online education and in person education.
"We have only three students who will take part in the upcoming examinations. We have prepared them properly and they are ready to sit for the examinations," she said.
"But this does not depict the actual scenario. Many students have not been able to get a proper education amid the novel coronavirus situation," she explained.
"Actually, there is no other way but to cancel the examinations. The examinations can be held online, but, in Bangladesh, we do not have sufficient digital tools to attend the exams," she continued.
"Additionally, the Cambridge authorities cannot rely on us as they think there will be anomalies in administering the examinations," she said.
Nonetheless, the British Council is determined to hold the examinations as per the announced schedule and it also, reportedly, has received the permission of the Bangladesh government on condition it maintains health guidelines during the examinations.
GM Nizam Uddin, secretary general of Bangladesh English Medium Schools Association (Bemsa), said, "Cambridge International informed us that no predicted results will be provided now. The examinations will be held."
Masud Khan, convener of the Bangladesh English School Parents' Association, said, students' mental health will be affected if they fail to get good scores. This will result in disastrous consequences for their families, he added.
What the British Council has to say
In a press release the British Council said, "In the upcoming October-November 2020 exams, UK exam boards will base results on students' performance in the exams alone and not on any non-exam assessment, with the exception of art and design qualifications."
"The health and safety of our customers remains our top priority. All British Council activities will be carried out in line with the Bangladesh government's Covid-19 protocols, as well as prevention and control mechanisms outlined by the World Health Organisation," it said.
The British Council, in its press release, added that their safeguarding protocols, – including mandatory face coverings during exams, physical distancing of candidates, cleaning and sanitisation of the venues – will be applied in all exam venues across Dhaka, Chattogram, Sylhet, Narayanganj, and Khulna.