• Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Increasing pass rate overshadows quality

Masum Billah

The results of Secondary School Certificate examination came out with the message of significantly high pass rates and higher grades. This has become a common picture for the last six years which definitely make us delighted as it shows that we are rightly keeping pace with the global jump.  Is it the case actually if we look into the matter seriously? As I belong to education department, each time when the results of any public examination comes out I become concerned about it and try to ventilate my opinion.  
In 2007, the SSC pass rate was 58.36%, while the percentage rose to 91.34 this year. A total of 142,276 students got GPA5 this year, compared to 25,732 in 2007. When we have increased the rate successfully, time has come to think very seriously about the quality as well. Does the present trend tell us that the quality of education has improved?  
The authorities claim that creative system is one of the major reasons for this result. Creative system was introduced in 2009 and the education boards started preparing questions reflecting creativity since 2010. Academic Supervision Report of the Director of Secondary and Higher Education found in September 2013 that only 55.33 institutions could prepare questions on this new system. 26.10 percent schools could do it partially. Again DSHE in February 2014 conducted another survey and found that 38 schools could not prepare questions by themselves. Causes were identified as teachers' inability and lack of training. Under these circumstances, the Ministry of Education has decided to cancel the MPO of those institutions which failed to develop questions of their own following the creative system. This report was published just one week before publishing the SSC examination in a daily. So, it sounds very contradictory when the authorities claim that results have become so good because of creative system.
The authorities have another claim that the students have done much better this year in Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and English which contributed a lot to increasing the pass rate. These have been tough subjects for the rural students who constitute the lion's share of the total number of examinees.  We know the teachers of these subjects are rare in rural schools.
The ministry took a good initiative. They identified the low performing institutions and selected eight thousand to give special coaching to the students. The examiners were asked from the board authorities to check the examination scripts very liberally. The worst thing is, the questions of all the examinations leaked out which could not draw the attention of the proper authorities for some unknown reasons. It is interesting enough that nobody paid heed to it which gives a signal that we are passing through a bad time.


The writer is Program Manager: BRAC Education Program and Vice-President: Bangladesh English Language Teachers Associatio

Published: 12:00 am Wednesday, May 21, 2014

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