Students who could have failed the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and its equivalent examinations this year are set to get their certificates as no student will be left behind under the government’s new grading system.
Education board officials said over the last five years, 25 to 30 percent examinees sitting for HSC and equivalent exams had failed. But with the government’s decision to grade this year’s candidates based on their Secondary School Certificate, Junior School Certificate results, 100 percent examinees will pass.
“These 25 to 30 percent students, who could have failed in the exams are getting undue privilege,” said Professor Siddiqur Rahman, former Director of the Institute of Education and Research at Dhaka University.
“This is never acceptable. They will get certificates without achieving qualification to pass the level. They will get some privilege even when enrolling for higher education,” said Siddiqur, also a member of the National Education Policy 2010 Formulation Committee.
He pointed out that many students who achieved a lower GPA in SSC exams and would have prepared better for the HSC exams will be deprived under new system.
Siddiqur said if the government wanted to eliminate undue privilege, there was no alternative to taking exams.
“I will urge all to review their decisions as soon as possible,” he said.
The government on Wednesday decided to cancel this year’s HSC and its equivalent examinations due to health-safety concerns amid the coronavirus crisis.
Instead, candidates would be evaluated based on their results in JSC, SSC and their equivalent tests.
The evaluation of the candidates would be published by December this year, Education Minister Dipu Moni said. About 13.65 lakh candidates were expected to sit for HSC exams this year.
According to education board officials, a total of 13,36,629 students sat for HSC and equivalent exams in 2019 and 26.02 percent failed.
The fail rate was 33.36 percent in 2018, 31.09 percent in 2017, 25.3 percent in 2016 and 30.4 percent in 2015.
While talking to this newspaper, highly-placed Dhaka Education Board officials said allowing all students to pass was not a wise move.
“It will create a precedence. If we cannot hold the SSC and equivalent exams in February next year due to Covid-19, we will also need to allow all of them to pass the exams based on their previous exams,” said an official.
Another official said this year’s Primary Education Completion, its equivalent exams and Junior School Certificate and its equivalent exams were also cancelled due to the pandemic.
“So far the decision was that these students would need to sit for an exam at school. Even they were not allowed a 100 percent pass rate,” he said.
Both officials said alongside JSC and SSC exam results, the government can look into the results of the qualifying test for the HSC exam while assigning grades to HSC candidates.
Dipu Moni, while announcing the government’s decision on Wednesday, said they would not take the result of the HSC qualifying test into consideration as these exams held at schools and colleges were not of the same standard.
When asked about many students getting the undue privilege, Dhaka Education Board Chairman Prof Ziaul Haque and Mymensingh Education Board Chairman Prof Gazi Hasan Kamal said the decision was made due to special circumstances.
“Some of the students will get some benefits; at this moment we cannot do anything,” said Ziaul, also chief of the inter-education board coordination sub-committee.
HSC and equivalent exams slated for April 1 were postponed on March 22 to help curb coronavirus transmission.
The government postponed the exams following the closure of all educational institutions on March 17. They are to stay closed at least until October 30.