The number of GPA-5 scorers in the HSC and equivalent exams is rising every year, but their performance in the admission tests for universities has dropped alarmingly over the last four academic sessions.
Around 70 percent GPA-5 holders in 2013-14 failed to secure pass marks (48 out of 120) in the admission test for Dhaka University, according to statistics of the admission committee.
The previous three sessions saw around 55 percent, 52 percent and 51 percent students failing in the entry exams to the DU. Most of the admission seekers failed in Bangla and English.
In the Higher Secondary Certificate exams, a GPA-5 scorer obtains 80 percent marks in all subjects on average.
Expressing concern over the poor performance of the highest graders, educationists said the students fail to acquire necessary competence even after completion of a certain level of education.
They also blamed the country's education system as it focuses on quantity rather than quality.
“There is a kind of grade inflation in our country. Grades don't reflect the performance of those students who achieved that particular feat,” said Prof Syed Manzoorul Islam of Dhaka University.
Students who are supposed to be efficient in mathematics, cognitive thinking and language skills after obtaining SSC or HSC certificates very often come up short of expectations, he mentioned.
"We've too many students passing out every year, but only a few of them are cultivated with proficiency in language, maths and other skills,” observed the educationist.
Prof Manzoorul thought that emphasis on learning by rote is another major reason behind this sad state of affair. “We've built a nation of rote learners which the worst thing is happening to a young generation…. We've introduced a creative method, but the method has not been utilised properly,” he added.
Prof Emeritus of DU Serajul Islam Choudhury observed that poor teaching quality is one of the major reasons behind deterioration in quality of education as the teachers are failing to teach students properly at secondary and higher secondary levels.
Teachers, he said, were not recruited on the basis of quality and they were not even provided with proper training. As a result, they cannot teach the students properly.
The DU holds a 120-mark admission test in each of the five units -- A, B, C, D and Cha. Students of science take the test under A unit for the Science Faculty, while humanities students under B unit for the Arts Faculty and students of business studies under C unit for the Business Studies Faculty.
Students from every discipline can appear in the admission test under the D (for some selected departments) unit. Besides, all students can take the test under “Cha” unit for the Fine Arts Faculty.
In Arts Faculty, questions comprise of three sections -- Bangla (30 marks), English (30 marks) and general knowledge (60 marks). Admission seekers in D unit also take a similar test.
The admission test in the Business Studies Faculty include Accounting (30 marks), Management (30 marks) alongside Bangla and English. In order to pass the test, each student needs to obtain a minimum of 48 marks.
But the statistics of the admission committee depicts a disappointing picture.
In B Unit, 73.12 percent of 10,768 GPA-5 holders who took the test did not achieve pass marks in the admission test last year. The percentage was 68 and 56 in 2012 and 2011.
As many as 28,454 GPA-5 achievers took the test under D unit last year. Of them, 23,750 failed to secure pass marks, with 19,510 failing in English and Bangla.
Asked if questions in the admission tests were tough, Prof Sadrul Amin, coordinator of B unit admission test, said the questions were meticulously chosen to reflect the standards of class XII and the students who had better concept of textbooks and other contemporary issues came out successful.
Prof Manzoorul said unless students could think themselves, achieve strength in cognitive and logical thinking, and independently write on a topic without being handicapped due to poor language skills, it was not possible to have ideal students for the university.
“We need to start revamping our education system from the primary level with more investment in the sector and ensuring necessary facilities. We must ensure attractive remunerations for the teachers as well,” he insisted.