The primary and mass education ministry yesterday sent a proposal to the Prime Minister’s Office, seeking Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s approval to cancel this year’s Primary Education Completion (PEC) and its equivalent exams.
The education ministry is also preparing a set of proposals to send those to the PMO about the fate of Junior School Certificate (JSC) and its equivalent exams, said a top official.
Primary and Mass Education Senior Secretary Akram-Al-Hossain told The Daily Star yesterday that if the prime minister approved the proposal, the primary and mass education ministry will cancel this year’s exams of PEC and its equivalent Ibtedayi Education Completion.
“If the exams are cancelled, we will hold a school-based final exam,” he added.
Meanwhile, an education ministry’s high official said they were preparing the proposal regarding the JSC exams, considering alternatives.
“The National Curriculum and Textbook Board and experts are working on the issue … We will send a proposal to the PMO soon,” said the official.
Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury refused to comment on the issue. “This is an internal policymaking issue; I will not make any comment on this,” he said.
The government is considering cancelling this year’s PEC, JSC, and their equivalent exams due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The move came after Primary and Mass Education Senior Secretary Akram-Al-Hossain, and Secondary and Higher Education Secretary Mahbub Hossain held a meeting with the PM’s principal secretary and other top officials of the PMO last week.
The PEC and its equivalent exams for the fifth graders, and JSC and its equivalent exams for the eighth graders are the two largest public examinations and both are scheduled for November.
This year, about 3 million students are expected to sit for the PEC exams, and 2.5 million to take part in JSC exams.
The government closed all educational institutions on March 17 to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The closure has been extended to August 31, and it is still uncertain when schools will reopen.
If the government cancels the exams, any public examinations will be cancelled for the first time since the independence of Bangladesh, said Prof Mazharul Hannan, a teacher union leader since 1972 and now president of Bangladesh Principals’ Association.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Examination Development Unit earlier this month had sent a set of proposals regarding JSC exams to the Dhaka Education Board, which was forwarded to the education ministry.
It proposed cutting the JSC syllabus and placing priority on ensuring minimum basic competencies of students if schools reopen in September.
If schools do not reopen by October, it suggested that exams of 50 marks be held with multiple choice questions and no exams be held if schools do not reopen at all this year. In that case, BEDU said important lessons of this year should be adjusted with the next classes’ syllabus.
The NCTB is also working on shortening the syllabus for the secondary students.
The National Academy of Primary Education was meanwhile working to cut the syllabus after assessing how many classes students can have if their schools reopen in September or November.
Holding of this year’s Higher Secondary Certificate and its equivalent exams has been deferred for an indefinite period. The exams were scheduled to begin on April 1. Over one million students are expected to take the exams.