BCS exam to be on schedule

5 lakh candidates set to sit for it on Mar 19; 11-point health guideline issued by PSC
File photo

The 41st BCS preliminary examination is going ahead on March 19 after the High Court rejected a writ petition filed by a BCS candidate seeking its deferral due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the recent surge in infections and fatalities.

Nearly half a million candidates are to sit for the exam, which is conducted by the Public Service Commission.

Amid many job aspirants demanding the exam be rescheduled, the High Court dismissed the writ and cleared the way for the exam to be held following health guidelines. PSC circulated an 11-point guideline in this regard yesterday.

However, public health experts say ensuring the health guidelines is now a challenge for PSC and the five lakh candidates.

Earlier, on February 22, Education Minister Dipu Moni had said the BCS exams would be postponed, and a new date would be announced in line with the universities' opening date. However, at a PSC meeting on March 3, it was decided to keep the 41st BCS exam on March 19.

While many students The Daily Star spoke to demanded the rescheduling of the exam, a portion also wanted the exam to be held on the set date.

Mahfuz Ahmed, a graduate from Rangpur University, said there were fewer Covid-19 infections when the PSC announced the exam date. "Now that infections are on the rise, the exam should not be held."

Another BCS candidate Nazmus Shakib said as the universities are closed, many candidates would naturally stay at their relatives' homes and at various messes and hotels in the city. "They have to move from one city to another. Taking the exam in this situation means putting half a million candidates at health risk."

Candidate Enamul Haque said not only candidates, but teachers, office assistants, PSC officials and employees, members of law enforcement agencies and parents would be on the move because of the exam.

However, other candidates want the exam to be held on time.

Mubinul Haque, a graduate of the University of Dhaka, said, "Where is the problem in taking exams if processions, meetings, offices and courts, can go on during the Covid-19 pandemic?"

Shahriar Ahmed, a graduate of DU's English department, said, "All major recruitment exams are closed due to coronavirus. Our age is passing, so we want the exam to take place."



A member of the Covid-19 National Technical Advisory Committee and former BSMMU Vice-Chancellor Dr Nazrul Islam told The Daily Star yesterday, "Covid-19 fatalities and infections are increasing. So, there is a risk of holding the exam with such a large number of candidates."

Around 4.75 lakh candidates applied for the exam after the 41st BCS circular was published in November 2019 to appoint 2,018 vacant posts in different cadres.

Among the 41st BCS candidates, 211,000 are from Dhaka, 37,000 from Rajshahi, 35,000 from Chattogram, 32,000 from Rangpur, 28,000 from Mymensingh, 16,000 from Sylhet, and 12,000 from Barishal, among others.

Among the 351 centres in seven divisions, there are many centres where 3,000-4,000 candidates will sit for the exam.

According to the public health expert, managing these numbers is a big challenge.

"But if PSC thinks they must hold the exam, they must follow the health guidelines. Candidates have to follow the hygiene rules from the time of entry to the time of exit; everything -- sanitising, masks -- is needed," said Dr Nazrul Islam.

Former secretary and PSC member Shahjahan Ali Mollah, in charge of conducting the 41st BCS exam, told The Daily Star yesterday the exam will be held in strict compliance with the hygiene rules.

"We have given 11-point instructions this [Tuesday] evening. Everyone has to come to the centre wearing a mask and can pass inside by having their temperature measured. If someone's temperature is high, they will be taken to a separate room. Seats have been arranged according to distance.

"We are doing everything according to the instructions given by the Ministry of Health. We hope the situation is under control and we are ready to take on the challenge, and we don't have any other way of taking the exam," he added.

In addition to the 41st BCS preliminary exam, the viva exam of the 40th BCS is currently underway, the special 42nd BCS preliminary results have not yet been published, and the application process for the 43rd BCS is underway.

Shariful Hasan is a freelance journalist. 


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