The Higher Secondary Certificate examination is one of the most important public examinations for the students in the country. However, because of the abrupt pandemic, its schedule has been disrupted causing mass anxiety among all the candidates nationwide as well as the guardians and the teachers. The exam was originally scheduled to commence on 1 April, 2020 — which is now stuck in a phase of uncertainty. As a result, the preparation of the students that took more than a year now is getting damaged because of the pandemic. Alongside the fear of Covid-19, they are also revising the old syllabus for an exam that at this point, no one knows when will take place.
After the first detection of Covid-19 infection in Bangladesh on 8 March, the government closed all educational institutions across the state from 18 March till 31 March and decided to hold a cabinet meeting. Later Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Educational Ministry — Mohammad Abdul Khartoum confirmed that the exam has been postponed and the new dates will be declared later. Amidst all this chaos, a fake notice was circulated that said HSC exams would begin from 15 July, but it was later cleared and declined by Dhaka Education Board.
On 23 June, Education Minister Dipu Moni said that it was not possible to hold the HSC and equivalent exams at this moment due to the pandemic, but the government has taken all necessary preparation for the future dates. And towards the students and parents, her suggestions were to spend the time doing something useful that strengthens the family bond and teaches a new skill. Later on 27 June, the Education Minister revealed that the duration of the academic year might be extended if the pandemic lasts longer.
At this point the students were hearing the same decision told in multiple ways and it was causing their anxiety to become more intense.
Regarding this, Afia Mustanin, a candidate for the Higher Secondary Certificate exams (2020) told us, “The anticipation and the uncertainty are taking me to a breaking point. It is one of the biggest exams of my life. The result will affect on many things regarding my future. I am still hopeful of a legitimate decision.”
Another candidate named Muminul Huq said to us, “From my house, sitting and complaining is all I can do at this point. It is because the authority is repeating the same thing for months now. I know they are doing the best they can, but providing with a strategy would help us a lot.”
About 13 lakh students were expected to sit for the HSC and equivalent examinations. The examinations had been scheduled to be held at over 9,000 educational institutions under 10 education boards—eight general, one madrassa, and one technical education board. A total of 16,90,523 students out of 20,40,028 students – 8,33,892 boys and 8,56,631 girls from 28,796 institutions and 3,603 centres under 11 education boards across the country, are eagerly waiting to gain admission into their desired institutions. However, they don’t know how much time they will have to wait.
The following link is a video of HSC students we took interview of: https://www.facebook.com/theapologuedhaka/videos/3933010496726029
Given such a circumstance, one thing that could provide everyone a big relief is an outlined plan by the government. The repeated announcement of the same matter is just adding fuel to the already intensified anxiety. Steps can be taken to digitise the HSC examination as many universities in Bangladesh are doing. Not only will that step ensure students’ safety, but will also save a large number of papers. The government can allow students to own/borrow laptops in rural areas and ensure a high-quality internet during the exam time. Apart from that, the whole exam can be taken solely based on multiple-choice questions to save both time and manpower to check scripts. This way, we save money, stop question leaking, and create a modern way of taking public exams that is new and improved from the current system.
In short, it is not wise to keep the examination on hold for much longer because this may lead to academic year losses for students. What we need to do now is come up with a suitable plan that will end in for the betterment and safety of the students.
The writer, a proud Slytherin, is a part of the TDA Editorial Team.