The government is in a tight spot over fixing the schedule for enrolling students to HSC and equivalent courses for the next academic session as it fears the admission process may expose a section of students and guardians to Covid-19.
Education boards were scheduled to start the online admission process on May 10, but they could not do so as they were not able to publish the results of this year's Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and equivalent exams.
Officials later expected they would be able to start the admission process on June 6-8 following the announcement of the results on May 31. But they now think it will not be possible for them to launch the process this month.
A top official of Dhaka education board said, "Starting the admission process totally depends on the novel coronavirus situation. We will not be able to launch the admission process this month."
Speaking to The Daily Star, Prof Ziaul Haque, head of the intra-board coordination committee, said they were observing the Covid-19 situation in the country.
"We will conduct the admission process once the situation starts to improve," said Ziaul, also the chairman of Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Dhaka.
He said many of about 16 lakh students and their guardians, who don't have access to internet at home, would have to go out to complete the admission process online. "They can be exposed to risk of contracting novel coronavirus. The current situation is not in favour of starting the admission process," Ziaul said.
Board officials said many students and guardians will have to visit local computer shops to complete the admission process online as they don't have access to internet at home. This will increase their chance of being infected with the deadly virus. The risks will be lower once the infection curve bends downward in the country.
All educational institutions in the country have remained closed since March 17 due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The government has now extended the closure until June 15 to stem the spread of the virus.
On April 27, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said educational institutions might remain closed until September if the situation did not improve.
According to the results of SSC and equivalent exams published on Sunday, a total of 16,90,529 students came out successful.
Several education board officials also expressed fear that the admission seekers might have to wait for months for the beginning of the academic year of Class 11 due to the novel coronavirus situation.
"This year's HSC batch will certainly lose time from the academic year [July-June]," said a board official, adding that it would take at least a month to complete the three-phased admission process.
A new academic year for HSC and equivalent courses usually begins on July 1 each year.
Ziaul, however, said there was nothing to be worried about the start of classes and academic year.
"Students will get two years. We will take steps to minimise their academic lossif the academic year starts behind schedule," he said.
This year, the government is set to introduce a fully online application system for enrollment of students in higher secondary colleges and madrasas.
Until last year, students used to apply for admission to colleges through online and SMS. The SMS-based system will not be available from this year.