SSC exams suffer setback again
Defying all odds, the first paper of the Secondary School Certificate and equivalent examinations was held yesterday peacefully amid tight security, but only to face fresh uncertainties ahead.
The BNP-led 20-party alliance has called countrywide shutdown from 6:00am Sunday to 6:00am Wednesday, coinciding with English 1st Paper and English 2nd Paper exam dates.
The government has yet to decide on rescheduling the exams and may make an announcement on this today, according to sources in the education ministry.
The 72-hour hartal is in protest at alleged killings, tortures and arrests of alliance activists and will be enforced alongside the indefinite blockade already in place, according to a press release signed by BNP Joint Secretary General Salahuddin Ahmed and issued yesterday.
The fresh shutdown was announced less than a day after the 5-day hartal by the anti-government alliance passed off on Thursday, leaving SSC candidates and their guardians in utter dismay and anxiety.
More than 14 lakh students yesterday took the Bangla 1st Paper test under 10 education boards across the country.
The test was supposed to be held on Monday but had to be deferred due to the 20-party's 5-day hartal. The Bangla 2nd Paper exam, originally scheduled for Wednesday last, will take place today.
To ward off widespread fears of attacks among the candidates and their guardians, the government beefed up security at and around the examination centres.
While policemen stood guard at the centres, members of the elite Rapid Action Battalion were seen patrolling the lanes, roads and streets around.
Besides, 326 platoons of the Border Guard Bangladesh were deployed across the country to ensure security of the examinees, according to a press release of the paramilitary force.
A total of 7,277 candidates were absent on the first day while 19 students and three invigilators were expelled for resorting to unfair means.
Frustration and fear of violence were written all over the faces of the candidates and the guardians who showed up at the exam centres.
"She is passing her days in uncertainty over exam routine. And we had to remain cautious all the way from our home to here," said Abdul Aziz, whose daughter Afsana Sultana took the exam at Siddeshwari Girls' High School yesterday.
MM Nurul Alam, father of GM Hassan of Bangladesh Bank High School, said the repeated rescheduling of the exams is putting a huge pressure on the students.
"The government should follow the exam routine and ensure proper security for all of us. Otherwise, the entire education system will collapse," he told this correspondent while waiting outside Gendaria High School where his son was taking the test.
He also requested the BNP and its allies to refrain from calling programmes on exam dates.
Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid visited Azimpur Girls' School and College around 9:00am.
"I hope no new [political] programmes will be announced, at least not on examination dates," he told the press at the exam centre.
However, all the appeals and expectations came to no avail as the 20-party combine chose to enforce fresh hartal on exam days and stick to their political objectives, rather than caring about the fate of the younger generation.