About three lakh students among around 14 lakh, who will pass the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and its equivalent tests on Saturday, might not be able to secure a place to continue their higher studies at universities and vocational institutions.
There are 11 lakh places for studies at public, private and vocational higher education institutions across the country, according to the University Grants Commission (UGC) report of 2019.
All 13.7 lakh examinees will pass without having sat for the examinations – unprecedented in the history of Bangladesh – as the results have been prepared on the basis of their Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Junior School Certificate (JSC) scores.
The higher educational institutions are already unable to provide quality education to all 11 lakh students as they do not have adequate manpower. Their teacher-student ratio (TSR) is still high, and it will increase if all 11 lakh study places are filled.
The ratio is 1:19 at public universities, 1:22 at private universities and 1:30 at institutions under the National University.
Dr Manzoor Ahmed, Professor Emeritus at Brac University, told The Business Standard that the TSR should be 1:15 for higher educational institutions.
He said ensuring quality education would not be possible if the ratio was higher than that.
"Some universities provide quality education, but students in the rest of the institutions become frustrated after getting their bachelor's and master's certificates," he added.
The HSC results will be made public at the International Mother Language Institute in the capital. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will announce the results formally at 10:30am through a video conference from Ganabhaban.
Later, Education Minister Dipu Moni will present the detailed results at a press conference.
Education experts have underlined the need for vocational education and other diploma programmes to prepare entrepreneurs as a way of coping with future challenges. They suggested admitting a maximum of five lakh students at the higher educational institutions.
Professor Dr AK Azad Chowdhury, a former chairman of UGC and former vice-chancellor of the University of Dhaka, told The Business Standard that the higher educational institutions did not have the capacity to accommodate all 14 lakh students.
"They are actually capable of giving space to a maximum of eight lakh pupils. The rest should go for vocational education," he said.
He also said the government had no choice but to give all examinees pass marks.
It was better than doing nothing, he added.
Professor Siddiqur Rahman, former director of the Institute of Education and Research at the University of Dhaka, said it would be a burden for the country if all the students who are going to pass on Saturday tried to get into higher educational institutions as many might not have satisfactory scores.
They should go for vocational studies, diplomas and other forms of professional training to become entrepreneurs, he said.
"It is the government's duty to encourage students to get vocational education and attend other training courses instead of entering traditional higher education institutions. The government must take this initiative immediately. Otherwise the students will be a burden for the nation in future," he added.
A good number of students cannot afford higher education at private universities. UGC statistics show that the private universities have 1.80 lakh places but bachelor's enrolment in these institutions fluctuates between one lakh and 1.2 lakh every year. More than 66,000 places thus remain vacant.
The HSC and its equivalent examinations were scheduled to be held from 1 April last year at over 9,000 educational institutions under 10 education boards – eight general, one madrasah and one technical education.
The government chose not to hold the examinations due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, it decided to publish the results based on JSC and SSC scores.
However, it was not possible to announce the results without amending the current laws. A gazette relating to three amended bills passed in parliament was issued on 25 January to have the results announced without holding the examinations.
How to get results
The results will be published online but will not be sent to colleges.
Students will have to register to get the results by typing "HSC<>Board name (First 3 letters)<>Roll<>2020" in the text message option of their mobile phones and send it to l6222.
The results will also be available on www.educationboardresults.gov.bd.