Secondary and higher secondary school students are still facing uncertainty as to how they will be evaluated amid the raging pandemic for promotion to the next level of education.
The education ministry contemplates both the options of exams and assignments, and the final decision depends upon where the infection curve goes.
If the Covid transmission falls to make it safer to hold exams, Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams will be held by November second week and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examinations by December first week on the shortened syllabus already laid out by the authorities, said Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni at a virtual event on Thursday.
In that case, students will be tested in three subjects, excluding those that they studied to pass the previous board exams. That means they will choose among subjects specific to the three groups – science, arts and commerce – for writing exams.
Registration for the exams will be done after Eid-ul-Azha.
The duration of exams and marks will be halved to 1.5 hours and 50 marks.
If the situation does not improve, results will be published through an evaluation of assignments given in the three subjects chosen by the students, combined with results of previous board exams.
"We may calculate 10-20% marks from assignments and the rest from results of previous public exams," the minister said, adding that if the evaluation of assignments were not done properly, results would be based on students' performance in previous public exams.
A total of 24 assignments will be given to SSC candidates in 12 weeks from this month. And HSC candidates will have to submit 30 assignments.
The assignments will help students prepare for the exams, Dr. Dipu Moni said.
"We will issue a directive to teachers and students so that the assignments are evaluated properly," she said.
Last year, the education ministry prepared HSC results on the basis of SSC and Junior School Certificate (JSC) results and published them, allowing all students to pass for the first time in the history of Bangladesh.
That may be repeated this year, with SSC results based on JSC results.
Earlier, the curriculum was cut short to arrange in-person classes for at least 60 days for SSC and 84 days for HSC students, but the plan has been dismissed because of the surge in infections.
Irrespective of how the evaluation is done, students will be losing 8-10 months of their academic life; before the pandemic SSC and HSC exams were scheduled to begin on 1 February and 1 April.
JSC, JDC students may get auto-promotion
The education ministry is considering the possibility of not holding JSC and Junior Dakhil Certificate (JDC) examinations this year.
Requesting anonymity, an official said the ministry would try to hold short tests in classrooms. If that does not happen to be possible, all JSC and JDC students will get auto promotion as was the case last year.
Learning loss recovery after reopening of institutions
Meanwhile, students have been suffering from learning loss and a lack of interaction with their peers and teachers since 17 March last year when the government directed all educational institutions to shut down to check the spread of Covid infections.
About 16 lakh students passed SSC in 2020 and were admitted to higher secondary institutions across the country. Unfortunately, they could not attend a single class in classrooms.
Kamrul Hasan, an HSC examinee from Bhola Government College, told this correspondent that he had felt tremendous mental pressure for being unable to attend online classes properly for not having a device.
"I missed both in-person and online classes. Today's announcement has reduced my tension," he said.
The education minister acknowledged the loss of learning and said the government would take recovery measures after the reopening of the educational institutions.