12:00 AM, December 31, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:22 AM, December 31, 2017

Comilla pulls all boards down

JSC overall pass rate 6-year low at 83.10pc; poor results in English, maths a major reason

A child and her parents looking for her grades on a result sheet at the Dr Khastogir Government Girl's High School in Chittagong. Results of the JSC and PEC exams were published yesterday. Photo: Rajib Raihan

After a steady rise in the success rate since its introduction in 2010, the overall JSC examination results this year suffered a significant fall both in terms of the pass rate and the number of highest achievers.

The pass percentage of the Junior School Certificate (JSC) exams under the eight education boards came down to 83.10 percent, a 9.79 percentage points drop from last year's, mainly due to a poor show in Comilla Board and students' dismal performance in English and mathematics.

The number of eighth graders achieving the highest grade -- GPA 5 -- also came down, to 1,84,397 from last year's 2,35,059.

A sharp fall of around 27 percentage points in the success rate in Comilla Board pushed down the overall pass rate, officials said.

The examinees in three other boards also performed badly in English and maths, contributing to the lower success rate.

The pass rate in the primary terminal exam also hit a six-year low with 95.18 percent kids coming out successful, down from 98.51 percent last year. The number of GPA 5 scorers came down to 2,62,609 from 2,81,898 the previous year.

However, Primary and Mass Education Minister Mostafizur Rahman termed the results "satisfactory". 

"It is a matter of special research. There might be various reasons behind it. We cannot tell it now," he said of the drop in the success rate, while announcing the results at a jam-packed press conference at his secretariat office yesterday.

Ministry officials echoed his view.

Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal, director general of the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE), which conducts the exams, said, "We will definitely do an analysis as to why the success rate fell."

This year's exams were marred by widespread allegations of question paper leak. In some districts question papers were available on social media hours before the tests.

Despite the overall poor performance, girls have done better in both the examinations than boys in most indicators like last year.

In the primary terminal exam, 95.40 percent girls came out successful (1,47,061 got GPA 5) against 94.93 percent boys (1,15,548 got GPA 5).

In the JSC exam, girls are also ahead of boys in terms of the number of attendees, pass rate and the number of GPA-5 achievers under the nine boards.

FALL IN JSC RESULTS

Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid could not say why the pass rate fell.

"We need some time to do a proper assessment as we need to get to the bottom of it," he said while announcing the overall results at his ministry.

But an analysis of the results indicates that a poor performance of the students in Comilla Board and students' performance in English and mathematics in other boards led to the fall in the overall pass rate.

Students of Comilla Board also performed badly in this year's SSC and HSC examinations, pushing down the overall pass rates in those exams.

With 62.83 percent students coming out successful, this board is at the bottom among eight general boards in JSC. Last year, the pass rate in the board was 89.68 percent.

Of the total 2.61 lakh students sitting the exams in Comilla Board, 21.38 percent flunked in English and 14.59 percent in maths.

Prof Md Abdus Salam, acting chairman of Comilla Board, told The Daily Star that the results in other subjects were quite good, but the students performed badly in English and maths for a lack of good teachers, especially in rural areas.

"Usually it's either English or mathematics that makes the difference in the results. That was the case here," he said.

He pointed out that the pass rate in English saw a 21 percent fall this year as 70.70 percent students passed in English compared to last year's 92.08 percent. Similarly, 82.46 percent students came out successful in maths against 97.05 percent last year.

"Most of the school in town areas saw a success rate of more than 90 percent, but schools in countryside did poorly," said Prof Salam.

"Scarcity of good teachers for English and mathematics in rural areas might be the reason," he said.

Students in Dhaka, Jessore and Chittagong boards also performed badly in these two subjects this year, results show.

The pass rate in English in Dhaka Board fell to 88.25 percent from last year's 94.14 percent. In mathematics, it dropped by 5.93 percentage points.

In Jessore Board, 90.66 percent students came out successful in English against last year's 96.42 percent. The pass rate in mathematics slumped by 10.25 percentage points and stood at 88.33 percent this year.

Dhaka Board Chairman Prof Mahabubur Rahman agreed that the pass rate fell because of poor show in English and maths.

However, "proper evaluation" of answer scripts and floods in some districts also played a role, he said.

"Some examiners used to evaluate answer scripts without doing the due diligence. Therefore they might have given extra marks in the past. But now we're giving training and regular guidance to the examiners and that's why they are evaluating answer sheets properly," he told this newspaper.

The students of Kishoreganj, Netrokona, Rajbari and Faridpur districts performed badly and the board authorities assume it was because of the flood, he added.

Prof Shaheda Islam, chairman of Chittagong Education Board, said, "We primarily found the question paper of mathematics was hard and that's why the students could not perform well. But we are still trying to find out the reason behind poor result in English."

Schools in rural areas saw poor results compared to the school in city. And the schools in Khagrachhari and Bandarban performed poorly like previous years "mainly due to poor infrastructure," she claimed.

A total of 21.03 lakh students under eight education boards across the country took part in the exams that began on November 1.

Of them, 17,07,024 students -- 10,96,317 girls and 9,57,825 boys -- came out successful. Some 3,96,739 students failed.

The pass rate in Junior Dakhil Certificate (JDC) examinations is 86.80 percent.

The combined pass rate of JSC and JDC in eight general boards and one madrasa board stood at 83.65 percent. It was 93.06 percent last year.

And 562 out of 599 JSC students, who took the test in eight overseas centres, came out successful. Of them, 83 obtained GPA-5.

Barisal Board is at the top of all boards with 96.32 percent pass rate.

This year, the number of institution with 100 percent pass rate also came down to 3,559. Last year some 6,247 institutions saw a 100 percent pass rate. No students passed from 34 institutions, against only eight last year.

PRIMARY TERMINAL EXAMINATION

Some 26.96 lakh class-V students took the tests in six subjects that began on November 20 across the country. The students must pass the exams to enrol in class VI.

Of them, 25,66,271 students -- 13,89,941 girls and 11,76,330 boys -- passed and 1,29,945 failed.

Like their JSC counterparts, the primary students did slightly badly in English and maths.

The pass rate in English came down to 97.5 from last year's 99.27 percent. In maths, it dropped to 98.21 percent from 99.33 percent last year.

Barisal, as in last year, topped the list among all seven divisions, with 96.22 percent success rate. With 91.46 percent, Sylhet remains at the bottom. As in previous years, Gopalganj stood first among all districts.

A total of 3,984 children with special needs took the exams and over 89.18 percent of them passed.

Out of 98,651 educational institutions, 66,228 saw 100 percent pass rate. No student from 360 schools passed this year.

Asked why government primary schools are lagging behind, the primary education minister said the government had been training and encouraging the teachers.

"If the teachers teach the students with more devotion, things will change," he said.

Replying to another query, Mostafizur Rahman said, "We are certainly happy with the results. Why do our students fail in exams? We prepare them for the test and they fail because of our weaknesses."

He apparently trashed the allegation of question leak.