15 days ago

Obsession with BCS exam

Candidates of the 45th BCS Examinations streaming out of Eden Women's College, an exam centre in Dhaka, after writing the preliminary test on Friday — FE photo
Candidates of the 45th BCS Examinations streaming out of Eden Women's College, an exam centre in Dhaka, after writing the preliminary test on Friday — FE photo

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Being a BCS (Bangladesh Civil Service) cadre is a dream job in Bangladesh. It is the most prestigious job status one can have in this country, and so is the toughest. Every year, thousands of candidates -- from engineers to doctors to social science students -- appear at BCS examination. This year too is not an exception. As many as 346,000 jobseekers, a number that is around 150 times higher than the available posts of 2,390, have sat for the recently-held 45th BCS preliminary exam. These candidates want to become BCS cadres as they know this is the only way to meet all their needs and gain social status. As a result, the number of BCS examinees is increasing day by day. And it is hard to believe that everyone wants to be BCS cadres no matter what backgrounds they are from. In the 38th BCS, seven out of 25 foreign cadres were medical students and 13 were engineering students. When doctors and engineers want to become BCS cadres, we have reasons to worry as it deprives the country of their future service and the investment it made on them is also wasted.

Students' craze for BCS exam can be seen if anyone pays visit to Dhaka University's Central Library area in the morning. Many students queue up every morning in front of the library's entrance hours before it opens so that they can study BCS materials there. University students also operate social media groups and pages to take BCS preparations together. In residential halls, they have reading circles and groups. And then there are coaching centres and online courses so that the students can ace the exam. More than half of our undergraduate students begin taking preparation for the BCS exam from their first year. This paints a harrowing picture of the current psyche of university students. Many of them care little about their results and degrees as they have their eyes set on the BCS exam. They give first priority to BCS preparation and attach secondary importance to academic activities. Gone are those days when it was believed that the first choice of top students of a department was to become faculty member of a public university. Nowadays, we come across an opposite scene. Most of the students, irrespective of their disciplines, want to become members of the BCS cadres for securing social status and enjoying administrative power and other perks and privileges.

Bangladeshi society, by and large, has a traditional notion of success. And becoming a BCS cadre has already been established as a parameter of being successful in our society. University graduates do not have any other options other than being part in the rat race. The competition is high, and so is the mental pressure. However, at times, this pressure is too much to cope with. BCS examinees suffer from burnout and depression due to a long preparation period and uncertainty about the future. To overcome this situation, new jobs should be created and private-sector jobs should have more facilities than the public ones.

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