Shortened versions of SSC, HSC exams likely in Nov, Dec
The SSC examinations will be held in November and the HSC tests in December if the Covid situation improves, the government announced yesterday allaying to some extent worries of around 36 lakh students as well as their guardians.
Usually, the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and its equivalent examinations take place in February while the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and its equivalent tests in April. The pandemic forced the government to postpone the exams, severely disrupting the academic life of the students.
The government said the examinees would have to take the tests only in three optional subjects. The syllabus will be shortened and the exams will carry fewer marks. The students will not have to sit for tests in compulsory subjects like Bangla, English and Mathematics.
The results of the three optional subjects and the Grade Point Average (GPA) of the students' previous public examinations, including Junior School Certificate (JSC) tests, will be taken into consideration while preparing the final results, it said.
The government wants to hold the SSC and its equivalent examinations in the second week of November and the HSC and its equivalent tests in the first week of December, Education Minister Dipu Moni said yesterday.
"This time, we want to prepare the SSC and HSC results through evaluation. If the Covid situation improves, we will take the tests within the shortest possible time. A shortened syllabus will be prepared," she said at a virtual press briefing.
Since there will be no tests in the compulsory subjects, the students' GPA of the previous public exams will be considered for the final results of the SSC and HSC exams.
In case the examinations are not held, the results of both the tests will be prepared based on the students' results in the previous public exams and evaluation of assignments to be given to them, mentioned Dipu Moni.
Around 21 lakh students are expected to take the SSC and its equivalent exams and 15 lakh the HSC and its equivalent tests this year.
Meanwhile, the announcement triggered a mixed reaction among the students and their guardians.
Many lauded the government, saying it eased their concerns to some extent.
"At least now I know when I should start making preparations for my exams. It's a great relief," Papiya Ahmed, an HSC candidate from Sirajganj, told The Daily Star.
"We don't want any auto-promotion. We want to sit for the exams," she said.
Some guardians said the government should take the tests in all the subjects.
"If they can hold the exams in three subjects, why can't they do so for all the subjects?" asked Riajul Islam, guardian of an SSC examine from Dhaka's Mohammadpur area.
Ziaul Kabir Dulu, president of Abhibhavak Oikko Forum, a platform of guardians, said, "The government has made a good decision as there is no alternative to holding exams."
The government closed all the educational institutions on March 17 last year, around a week after the first cases of Covid were detected in the country. The closure has been extended multiple times since then.
According to the latest announcement, schools and colleges will remain closed till July 31.
The education ministry held the SSC tests in February last year, but the HSC exams had to be postponed. The results were published by averaging the grades in Junior School Certificate (JSC) and SSC tests.
The students of other classes were promoted automatically to the next grade based on the evaluation of assignments handed to them.
HOW EXAMS WILL BE HELD
During the virtual briefing, Dipu Moni said the exams in each of the three optional subjects would be held for one and a half hours, instead of three hours.
Examinees will have to answer both multiple choice and written questions, she said.
This time, the examinees would get more options to answer the questions. Earlier, they were asked to write down answers to eight out of 10 questions. This time, they will have to answer three or four out of 10 questions, she explained.
"The total number in each examination will be 50 instead of 100."
Dipu Moni said the SSC candidates would not take the tests in compulsory subjects. Their results in the JSC exams would be taken into consideration. For HSC examinees, the results of their JSC and SSC exams will be considered, she said.
A Dhaka board official said that for preparing the HSC results, they would consider 75 percent of the marks the students obtained in the compulsory subjects in SSC exams and 25 percent in the JSC tests.
Talking to this newspaper, Prof Siddiqur Rahman, former director of the Institute of Education and Research at Dhaka University, said the authorities should take exams in the compulsory subjects as well.
As part of the exam, SSC candidates will have to submit 24 assignments in three optional subjects in 12 weeks. The HSC candidates will have to submit 30 assignments in 15 weeks. Students are required to do two assignments per week.
Dipu Moni said the distribution of assignments, to be prepared on shortened syllabuses for SSC candidates, will begin on July 18. For HSC candidates, it will begin on July 26.
Contacted, Prof Narayan Chandra Saha, chairman of the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB), said they were working to prepare the assignments and those would be sent to the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) before the stipulated time.
DSHE Director General Prof Syed Md Golam Faruk said all schools would give the assignment to students and students would submit those to their teachers.
"Teachers will assess the assignments of their own students and put all information in the central data centre," he said.
Educationists stressed ensuring transparency in evaluating the assignments.
"The assessment of assignments will have to be unbiased," said Rasheda K Choudhury, executive director of Campaign for Popular Education.
Expressing a similar view, Abhibhavak Oikko Forum's Ziaul Kabir Dulu said, "If the assessment is done by the teachers of respective institutions, there will be a chance of biasness. The government must make the issue clear."
However, Dipu Moni said that they would pick 10 percent of the assignments and experts would assess those to check whether the evaluation was done appropriately.
"We will take action if we find that a teacher has not done his job properly during the evaluation," she warned.