The Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examination has just got cancelled by the government owing to the COVID-19 pandemic as confirmed by Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni. Around 1.4 million students under 11 educational boards were supposed to sit for this year's HSC and equivalent examinations, scheduled to start on April 1. The government earlier cancelled Primary Education Completion (PEC) and Junior School Certificate (JSC) examinations due to the pandemic. The HSC examination, stretched out and expected to be held later, has been cancelled finally.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni said that the students will be evaluated based on their JSC and SSC results. Results will be announced in December. If the examinations were to be taken following all the rules of hygiene and COVID-19 guidelines, the number of examination halls would have needed to be doubled keeping social distancing and safety in mind. Hence, the decision for moving forward has been taken into consideration regarding all aspects.
The headline might just keep the readers wondering and sparkle in a debate. Whether or not, the cancellation of the HSC examination is a curse or blessing in disguise can only be interpreted by talking directly to the HSC examinees themselves. For this, the outreach team of the Financial Express reached out to a number of students who were expected to appear in the HSC examination earlier this April that got delayed due to the pandemic. The team asked them various questions and tried to understand how they are looking at the situation. The opinions were, however, very much divided. On the other hand, different interviews were also conducted and conversations with teachers of different reputed institutions and also former HSC examinees were made to gather a different angle and perspective to the story.
Isham Rahman, an HSC candidate studying at Notre Dame College, quoted, “I think the government has taken the right decision by predicting the grades and not taking the HSC examination because it is very unsafe to attend the examination by being physically present at the examination halls now.” He thinks that the university admission requirements will be changed a little bit because some students might have prepared for HSC well; but, due to the predicted grades, they might not get the grades they had been hoping for.
Some students could have prepared themselves to do better in HSC considering that they did not get good grades in JSC and SSC. The predicted grades would be very unfair to them. Apurba Fatima, another HSC candidate studying at Adamjee Cantonment College, said that her last seven months were extremely overwhelming and the candidates had to take so much toll on their mental health, resulting from the fact that most news portals and agencies fed them the statement, “HSC will take place soon enough.” She applauds the decision of the government to cancel the test as sitting for an examination in this global pandemic would not only endanger herself, but also her family. Students can now prepare for admissions without any risk regarding health issues. Rafsan Anwar Radhif, an HSC candidate from Bir Sreshtho Noor Mohammad Public College, explained the whole situation with one word “Alhamdulillah.” He expressed uncertainty whether to start preparation for the admission tests and was skeptical about the HSC examination. This was a huge sigh of relief as he is now going to be able to focus solely on preparing for the admission tests.
Tanjeem Azwad Zaman, who stood sixth in BUET admission test in 2018, third in Dhaka University A Unit and 1st in both SUST and IUT entry tests, is currently studying in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). He gave some of his useful insights about the issue. He said the decision was very considerate of the students' safety. He believes that the prompt action will essentially reduce session jam and avert time consumption up to 1-2 years.
However, he suggests that the 1st and 2nd year results of the concerned educational institutions should be taken into consideration. Furthermore, he strongly emphasised reducing the impact of SSC and JSC results and put more stress on the actual admission test in the admission process. For example, medical colleges have an allotment of 100 marks – 40 based on SSC and 60 from HSC CGPA. This could be adjusted so that admission tests count for around 60 to 70 per cent of the total. According to him, nothing will be enough to check all the boxes and compromises must be made. But, ensuring the safety of the students and making progress on the matter is very commendable.
Shahidul Hasan Pathan, a well-known lecturer of Bangla at Notre Dame College, said he primarily agrees with the decision of the government and quoted, “Safety comes first. Life comes first. Education is secondary in comparison,” and further he added how it’s not only 13-14 lakh students who would be coming to the examination halls, but also their parents to come and pick them up. Amidst this pandemic, this would raise the growing concern of spreading the disease. He further expressed his concern regarding the students who did not cut a good figure in JSC and SSC examinations and were looking to rebuild themselves by studying hard for the HSC examination. Pathan voiced his concern over the judgement to the students who had Science background during the SSC but switched to Arts, Commerce or Humanities.
Aside from the snippets of the conversations mentioned above, the outreach team of Financial Express talked to many students from different institutions, including Rajuk Uttara Model College, Viqarunnisa Noon College, BAF Shaheen College and many others, and found that most of the students are happy with the decision. But they are overwhelmed and have expressed concerns over the evaluation process and marking criteria. They hope that the government will be a little bit more liberal and considerate during the admission tests.
N.B: None of the statements mentioned above are opinions of the writer or the Financial Express. The writer only narrated different conversations he had with different people and expressed their opinions and concerns. The writer is currently a student of BUP pursuing his undergrad in Marketing. Readers can reach the writer by mailing him at @email@example.com.