After putting the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exam on hold for months, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni recently announced that HSC and all equivalent examinations would not be held this year owing to the pandemic and candidates would be evaluated on their JSC results.
However, this could put a big number of examinees in trouble because the decision is quite likely to drastically impact their careers and have other unintending consequences.
The government has decided not to hold the HSC and equivalent exams considering the severity of Covid-19 in Bangladesh and the results will be announced in December based on the candidates' JSC and HSC result, said Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni in a virtual press conference.
The exam was scheduled to take place on April 1. As the government did not provide any indication regarding the cancellation of the examination, students were attentively preparing to sit for the tests. Hence, the news of cancelling the exam has sparked discontent among many, if not all.
Around 13 lakh students were expected to sit for the exams this year, but after the government's decision, none of them can appear for the tests – which can leave a huge negative impact on their careers. There are a plethora of ways in which HSC candidates will be forced on the backfoot as a result of this decision.
Firstly, when candidates were informed of automatic evaluation of their result based on previous academic records after keeping them waiting since long, it plunged them into the depths of despair.
With no prior hint of cancellation of exam from the government, many students were preparing themselves to bounce back in the HSCs as their previous academic records were not up to the mark.
Also, candidates registering to retake the exam are included among them. This decision has left them with no option to improve their scores.
There are a series of instances of examinees doing much better at HSC than they did in their JSC and SSC exams. How will the government justify this decision to them? Are they not being deprived?
Furthermore, students were studying for the exams, but following the cancellations, they are likely to give up studying. That is because traditionally students of Bangladesh are used to studying actively when schools are open and their studies intensify when exams are nearby.
Nonetheless, once they have been informed that the evaluation will be accomplished differently this year, they are highly likely to give up studying. This will bring about an unfavourable ramification on their career — no exam, no study and in turn no growth of skills and knowledge for them.
Most importantly, candidates promoted and passed having appeared in no board exam will unequivocally fall behind in the race of university admission test.
The cancellation of the exam in such a way conveys a message to the examinees: there is no exam immediately, so it does not necessitate intensive studies. But in this way, they are susceptible to get detached from studies.
Sadly, but surely, this will harm them as they attend the university admission test, the most competitive exam in the academic arena of Bangladesh.
What will you say to those who, despite sound preparation for compensating their previous unexpected result, will be awarded poor grades? Are they not getting deprived of the opportunity of turning around their fortunes?
As it stands now, because Covid-19 required a massive shift in the way we live, work and purchase things, the entire world has adapted to the pandemic and finding alternative means to get things completed.
Yet, since we have a chance to make full use of technology, we could incorporate an alternative means of holding the HSC exam, which is perhaps the most pivotal stage of academic life for all students of our country.
What is the point of claiming Bangladesh a digital country if the authorities fail to arrange the exam using technology, or using any other alternative means?
Mahde Hassan is pursuing a bachelor's degree majoring in English at East West University. He can be reached at email@example.com.