Owing to the alarming rise in Covid-19 infections in the country, admission seekers into government and non-government schools may not need to sit for a test this year as they are likely to be enrolled via a lottery system.
The Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education has already sent recommendations to the Education Ministry, which include admitting students from Class I through Class X, via lottery if the Covid-19 infection rate continues to spike.
Directorate officials and faculty believe this is the only available recourse for student admissions as health experts recommend that gatherings at large schools should be avoided until the situation improves.
Bangladesh reported 39 deaths from the novel coronavirus today, with the daily infection rate at nearly 14%.
Md Belal Hossain, director (secondary) of Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education, told The Business Standard, "We have submitted our recommendations to the Ministry. But it will be tough to hold the admission tests if the virus situation deteriorates."
Syed Hafizul Islam, head teacher of Motijheel Government Boys' High School, said they considered enrolling new students through a short admission test. But that is proving to be impossible now as the Covid-19 situation has begun to worsen again.
"We will wait for a decision from the Education Ministry. But, it will not be wise to hold the admission test," he added.
Professor Nazrul Islam, a virologist and ex-vice chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), also recommended avoiding crowds at educational institutions unless the daily Covid-19 infection rate drops below 5%. "Or else, the impact would be serious."
Sources said the Directorate has also suggested two other options for the admission test: in written or MCQ form, but everything depends on the coronavirus situation.
Ziaul Kabir Dulu, president of Abhibhavak Oikyo Forum – a national platform of guardians, said school admission tests cannot possibly be held with infection rates are on the rise.
"Please do not push our children to get infected with coronavirus [by holding in-person admission tests]. If schools have available seats, admit them through lottery," he also said.
The country has 19,421 high schools, 638 of which are government high schools. Dhaka has 42 government high schools and 321 non-government ones. There are also 25 reputable private institutions.
Students of Class I were admitted through lottery last year. Students of Classes VI and IX were enrolled on the basis of their Primary School Certificate (PSC) and Junior School Certificate (JSC) exam results respectively. Written tests were held for other classes.
The government has decided not to hold PSC, JSC and HSC exams this year.
The PSC and JSC students will be promoted automatically, while HSC students will be assessed based on their JSC and SSC results. Students will also be promoted automatically from primary to the secondary level.
On March 16, the Education Ministry issued a press release, announcing the government's decision to close all educational institutions and coaching centres from March 18 to March 31, taking into consideration the students' safety amid the global pandemic.
Classes have remained suspended since then although administrative activities gradually resumed.
The Ministry has extended the closure on several occasions – first till 9 April, then 25 April, 5 May, 30 May, 6 August, 31 August, 3 October, 31 October and, now, till 19 December.