- Covid-19 has paralysed the education sector in Bangladesh and HSC Batch 2020 is the worst victim
- Over 16 lakh students have lost a significant period of academic life and are waiting for the admission test
- There is social stigma attached to the HSC Batch 2020 and people consider it less meritorious due to the auto pass
- A total of 1,367,377 who passed HSC in 2020 and two lakh who passed in 2019 have been waiting for admission at different public universities
- Bangladesh Bishwabidyalaya Parishad on 11 June postponed admission tests for the 2020-21 academic year of a science and technology university and 19 general universities due to the rising trend of virus infection
- The admission tests were scheduled to be held in a cluster system on 19, 26 June and 3 July respectively for humanities, commerce and science groups
Arif Hossen was fully prepared for the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examination in 2020 but the deteriorating situation of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country forced all educational institutions to close in March last year, leaving Arif in uncertainty around the HSC exam.
Finally, the HSC results were published in January this year. The Covid-19 situation also started improving and universities took initiative to hold admission tests, which was a matter of relief for Arif to some extent.
However, anxiety engulfed him again when the infection rate started rising in the last week of January and admission tests became uncertain. He has already lost almost one and a half years of his academic life. The pandemic has apparently paralysed the education sector in Bangladesh and HSC Batch 20 is the worst victim of the malady.
Over 16 lakh students like Arif have lost a significant period of academic life and are waiting for the admission tests. Unfortunately, following the recent rising trend of the virus, the university authorities are yet to decide on holding the tests.
Students of pre-primary to higher secondary level as well as national university students were given auto promotions. Public university students completed their classes online and some universities held exams online. Private universities have conducted classes and exams online and their students are not facing any session jam.
Farabi Rahman Ardi, who passed HSC from Adamjee Cantonment College in 2020, told The Business Standard he was worried about his future. He hoped to get admitted in a reputed university and took preparations in this regard.
"Anxiety has been with me since March last year. Each day seems a burden and I cannot bear it anymore," he said in frustration.
The HSC exams of 2020 were scheduled to begin on 1 April last year and the results were scheduled to be announced within 60 days of the completion of the exams. Universities usually complete admission tests by October and classes commence in January each year.
Fahim Ahmed, who passed HSC from Dhaka City College, told TBS there is a social stigma with the HSC Batch 20 since people consider the batch as less meritorious due to the auto pass it was given.
"We did not want an auto pass, but because of the adverse situation, the government had to evaluate us in that way and provide grades," he said.
"We are forgetting everything that we studied for the admission test. The universities should say clearly if the exams will be held or not," he added.
A total of 1,367,377 students who passed HSC in 2020 and two lakh who passed in 2019 have been waiting for admission at different public universities.
Prof Mohammad Rafiqul Alam, president of the Bangladesh Bishwabidyalaya Parishad (Bangladesh University Council), told TBS the council has been observing the situation and will soon meet in this regard.
"It will be impossible to hold in-person admission tests if the Covid-19 situation remains unchanged. We will take the final decision about admission based on grades too at the meeting," he added.
The council on 11 June postponed the admission tests for the 2020-21 academic year of a science and technology university and 19 general universities due to the rising trend of virus infections. The admission tests were scheduled to be held in a cluster system on 19, 26 June and 3 July respectively for the humanities, commerce and science groups.
Meanwhile, Dhaka University has decided to hold admission tests for Ka unit on 6 August, Kha unit on 7 August, Ga unit on 13 August, Gha unit on 14 August and Cha unit on 31 July. But this schedule too has become uncertain due to the worsening situation of the pandemic.
Professor Dr AKM Maksud Kamal, pro-vice-chancellor (Academic) of Dhaka University, told TBS that DU will try to hold the exams in time but it will be tough if the pandemic situation does not improve.
Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (Cuet), Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology (Ruet), and Khulna University of Engineering and Technology (Kuet) are scheduled to hold their admission tests on 12 August.
Uniform admission tests of seven agricultural universities are scheduled for 31 July. Other public universities will arrange their admission tests separately.
Admission tests for medical colleges were held on 2 April and those of dental colleges are scheduled to be held on 11 July.
Professor Dr Siddiqur Rahman, former director of the Institute of Education and Research at Dhaka University, stated that the government as well as the university authorities must have a long-term plan in place for academic activities to be conducted smoothly amid any adverse situation such as a pandemic.
"It is very frustrating and unfortunate that the students are losing academic time," he said.
Seats in different institutions
According to data from the University Grants Commission, 39 public universities, including Dhaka University have 60,000 seats, 95 private universities have two lakh seats, National University 8.70 lakh, Islamic Arabic University 60,000, Bangladesh Open University 78,000, Medical and Dental Colleges 10,500, seven government colleges 23,000, four engineering colleges 720, six textile colleges 720, public and private nursing colleges 5,600 and other institutions have 5,000 seats at the undergraduate level.