School admission in the coming academic session will be based on lottery and the application process will be done online.
The decision has been made to avoid health risks amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Education Minister Dipu Moni said at a virtual press briefing yesterday.
She also said 50 percent quota, instead of the current 40 percent, would be reserved for students for admission to their local school in the capital. Besides, students in Dhaka will be able to select school from five under the cluster-based lottery system.
Dipu Moni hinted that the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and the Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) examinations next year could get delayed by a month or two. Besides, the results of this year's SSC tests would be given priority in deciding the results of this year's HSC examinations, which could not take place due to the pandemic.
The minister then assured that the pending final exams at the National University and technical institutions would be held soon following the health guidelines.
Speaking on the school admission, the minister asked all non-government secondary schools not to collect development, laboratory, library, and magazine fees from students while admitting them for the coming session.
Dipu Moni said they decided to complete the admission process through lottery following consultation with experts, head teachers at different schools and officials from the education and the primary and mass education ministries.
She hoped the admission process would be over by January 15. Details about the process, including the lottery system, would be disclosed on December 7.
Talking to The Daily Star, Prof Syed Golam Faruk, director general of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education, also said admission to the primary section of secondary schools would be done through lottery.
Millions of students and their guardians have anxiously been waiting for the start of school admission as public and private school authorities have not yet decided anything on holding entrance tests or selling admission forms.
Usually, private schools start selling the forms as early as mid-November. On the other hand, government schools begin the form distribution in December. But this year has been different as all schools have been closed since March 17 amid the pandemic.
The school closure has recently been extended to December 19 to ensure health safety.
Dipu Moni said the "catchment" quota for schools located in Dhaka had been increased to 50 percent from 40 percent. And students willing to enroll in government schools in Dhaka will be able to choose five schools from each of three clusters. Currently, a student can choose a single school from each of three clusters.
Now, schools take fresh students for all classes based on vacancy. But they enroll the bulk of students in class-1, at the beginning of students' academic life, and in class-6 after completion of primary education.
Each year, several million students get fresh admission to schools across the country.
Admission to class-1 takes place through lottery all over the country. Students get admitted to class-9 based on their results of Junior School Certificate (JSC) or Junior Dakhil Certificate (JDC) examinations. Students willing to enroll to other classes need to take admission tests.
Meanwhile, the government decision to admit students based on lottery has triggered mixed reactions among educationists.
Former Buet Prof M Kaykobad and Brac University Professor Emeritus and also founder-director of the private university's Institute of Educational Development Manzoor Ahmed welcomed the decision.
They said the government should make admission through lottery and expansion of the quota facilities for admission to local schools a permanent system.
Manzoor Ahmed said the government should work to create good schools in all areas by taking up plans on improving education quality.
"If there are good schools in our locality, parents will not run after some reputed schools elsewhere. It will also reduce traffic jam in the capital," he said.
Former director of Dhaka University's Institute of Education and Research and a member of the National Education Policy 2010 Formulation Committee, Prof Siddiqur Rahman said the lottery system was the right one for admission to class-I.
"Children of this level will learn through fun and play … but lottery for admission to upper classes might not be that good. The lottery system will allow students of all standard -- low, medium and high performing -- to sit in the same classroom. Teachers might find it difficult to deal with such a classroom which will be heterogenous in nature," he said.
"If you want to reduce the disparity between high-performing and low-performing schools, you will need to improve the quality of education. You need a competency-based education system."
Dipu Moni said making the lottery-based admission system permanent depended on the success of this year's model.
"Some might link lottery with fate …. But the lottery system might bring some positive changes in schools and the education system," she said.
"Under the current system, everybody runs after some reputed schools for admission and it allows the disparity among schools to grow. The new move will help us close the gap," she said.
SSC AND HSC
Dipu Moni hinted that next year's SSC and HSC examinations might be delayed by a month or two. Usually, SSC exams start on February 1 and the HSC tests on April 1.
She said the SSC students would be evaluated on the basis of a curtailed syllabus, ensuring that minimum competency is needed for promotion to the next level.
Due to the Covid-19, the government in October had announced that examinees of this year's HSC and its equivalent tests would be evaluated based on their results of their Junior School Certificate (JSC), SSC and their equivalent test grades.
Dipu Moni said the SSC grades might get 75 percent weight to the HSC results, while the JSC results 25 percent weight.
Regarding the public university admission tests, the minister urged all universities to follow the cluster admission system to lessen the financial burden on admission seekers and reduce their hassles.