Tenth graders are jubilant as the Secondary School Certificate (SSC), and equivalent examinations have begun after nine months of delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some 22 lakh candidates are sitting for the SSC, and equivalent exams, which are being held under special rules including reduced exam time, shortened syllabus and precautionary measures for the students' safety against the coronavirus infection.
Students said they are relieved that the government did not opt for auto-promoting the candidates, which it hinted at a few times, and rather decided to hold the exams.
Some students, however, were unhappy over the reduced test time.
Sabrina Akhter, an examinee from Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, who was sitting for the exams at Motijheel Boys' High School centre, told The Business Standard that she feels good taking part in the examinations as she did not like the idea of getting certificates through auto-promotion.
"We were waiting for the exams for a long time. Sitting for the SSC exams is a special moment for most students including me. I thank the government for arranging the exams," she said.
Rifat Hossain, another examinee from Metropolitan Creative School and College, said, "I am happy to take the exams. It would have been really sad if we didn't get the chance to sit for the exams."
An examinee from Motijheel Ideal School and College wishing anonymity told The Business Standard that his exam was not good at all because of the reduced time.
"Time was not enough for the questions. I could answer more questions if I had more time," he said.
Guardians of the SSC, and equivalent exams, were equally happy over the government's decision to hold the examinations.
"Students cannot be properly evaluated without public examinations. So, holding the SSC exams was much expected and I thank the education ministry for it," said Ranjan Chowdhury, a guardian.
"Students need good grades in SSC to enrol into good colleges and later into universities. So, the SSC exams carry special value for students' future academic life," he added.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni visited the Motijheel Boys' High School centre and expressed her satisfaction over the exam arrangements inside the school.
She also thanked the students and guardians for their patience as they were waiting for the exams for a long time.
Asked about rumours surrounding question paper leaks, the minister said, "There is no chance of that happening. A vested quarter is trying to spread misinformation over this issue."
"Stern measures will be taken against those who will try to leak question papers," she warned before adding "Any irregularities will be met with immediate action" added Dipu Moni.
The SSC, and equivalent exams, which the government had to defer this year, are usually held in February.
On Sunday students started to arrive at the examination centres from around 9 am and took part in the exams that began at 10 am and ended at 11:30 am. A total of 22,27,113 candidates sat for the SSC and equivalent exams this year.
Examinees were seen entering exam centres wearing masks, but many guardians were seen ignoring the health protocols in front of most centres.
Authorities have previously asked guardians so each student is accompanied by a single person, a parent or family member, which many ignored, causing huge crowding in front of the exams' centres.
Guardians said that they are not worried about students contracting Covid as they took vaccines against the coronavirus and the infection rate has dropped sharply.
"We have received vaccines. Our children also received the vaccine. So we are not concerned about the health protocols anymore. The students are wearing masks. Besides, the infection rate is fairly low now," said Nupur, a guardian.
No JSC exams after the new curriculum
Education Minister Dipu Moni has said that there will be no Junior School Certificate (JSC) examinations after the revised national education curriculum was introduced.
"Assessments will be done in other methods," the minister told reporters after visiting the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exam centre in Motijheel Ideal School and College on Sunday morning.