Nobody knew that the outbreak of Covid-19 would bring the world to its knees affecting the lives of everyone. But this impact has been particularly detrimental to the students from both Bangla and English medium schools, and especially those who were hoping to sit for SSC, HSC, O Levels or A-Levels.
Board exams are considered one of the most important exams of a student's life and make a significant contribution to professional lives.
However, students of the Bangla medium school were given a guideline policy by the Ministry of Education as they fall under the protection of the ministry. But what about students from English Medium schools? Do we not qualify to be protected by the education ministry when life-threatening challenges come shooting towards us.
Let us begin with those challenges. English medium students coming from either schools, or private individuals through self-study, attend exams, consisting of O Level (equivalent to Secondary School Certificate) and A-Level (equivalent to Higher Secondary Certificate / Higher Secondary School Certificate), assessed by two UK boards: Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) and Pearson qualifications Edexcel, which has been accepted by the government of Bangladesh as educational institutions under private entity, not falling under the protection of the Ministry of Education of Bangladesh.
As a consequence, English medium schools, British Council, and coaching centres are charging high fees as tuition, examination and late fees, and there is no regulatory body to monitor their actions.
Students from both UK boards were supposed to appear for O Level and A Level examinations during the May/June 2020 session, however, the global pandemic has changed the entire scenario and the examination was cancelled.
However, only school candidates were provided with predicted grades so that they can continue their education, whereas private candidates were denied it, opening up a space of discrimination.
It should be mentioned here that students often choose to become private candidates to try and alleviate some of the financial burdens on the parents.
Not everyone comes from a well-to-do family. Also, private candidates are not asking for free grades, and instead want to be treated the same way as school candidates so that they do not lose a year from their education.
The British Council automatically shifted all private candidates to October/November 2020 session without even consulting with the students. The students agreed with this unfair decision to sit for exams by spending a fortune, because they did not want to lose this opportunity again.
However, Covid-19 infections have spiked more than since May in Bangladesh and the British Council is asking us to give physical examinations in this critical situation, thereby putting us and our families at risk.
Do you think it is justified to attending exams when the government of Bangladesh has already closed down all educational institutions till October 3, 2020? Who will take the liability and where will we go to and who will listen to us just because we do not fall under a category of the Educational Ministry?
We need similar assessment-based grades as it happened in the case of school students during the May/June 2020 session. That is because we do not want a year gap in our education and we do have dreams too.
Our parents spent a fortune to turn our dreams into fruitful outcomes. A lot of students are going through mental depression and suicidal thoughts due to the uncertainty caused by this.
Right now, we need all the support we can get from the Ministry of Education as well as from the general people of Bangladesh and understanding about the entire situation we all are going through.
(Writers are A Level candidates; Asif Chowdhury O level candidate.)