Every November, the stress levels of many parents seeking to get their children admitted to private schools begin to escalate as the admission process of most reputed schools in the capital kicks off by the middle of this month.
But this year, the anxiety of the guardians grows deeper as the coronavirus pandemic has made school admissions complicated and uncertain.
“I have already communicated with three good private schools, but all of them said they are yet to decide about the admission tests. They cannot say anything specific now and asked us to keep in touch with them,” said Riasat Alam, a father of a six-year-old from Mirpur.
School admission has always been a nerve-wracking ordeal for guardians as there are only a handful of “good” schools in the capital against an ever-increasing demand every year.
“We saw on television that there is an apprehension of a second wave hitting the country in winter. If this apprehension turns true, we don’t know what will happen. We are anxious,” said Riasat, a private job holder.
Thousands of parents like Riasat are anxiously waiting for the start of school admissions as none of the public and private school authorities have yet taken any decision about selling admission forms and holding tests.
Private schools usually start selling admission forms as early as mid-November. On the other hand, government schools begin the form distribution process in December.
But the Covid-19 pandemic situation, which forced the authorities concerned to shut down all educational institutions till November 14, brought a completely different situation for both school authorities and parents.
NO SIGN OF ADMISSION PROCESS IN SIGHT
Schools take fresh students for all classes based on vacancy. But they enrol the bulk of students in class-1, at the beginning of students’ academic life, and in class-6, after completion of primary education.
Each year, several million students get fresh admission to schools in the capital.
Admission to class-1 takes place through lottery all over the country. Students at class-9 get admitted based on their results of Junior School Certificate (JSC) or Junior Dakhil Certificate (JDC) examinations.
Top-ranking private schools usually start the admission process before government schools.
Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, for example, started distributing admission forms of class-1 students between October 29 and November 12 last year. Ideal School and College, Motijheel, distributed admission forms between November 9 and 18.
But this year, the school authorities have not taken any decisions yet.
“We are waiting for the government’s decision,” said Ideal School and College principal Shahan Ara Begum.
The school has about 1,400 seats.
Last year, government schools distributed admission forms from December 1 to 14. Lottery for class-1 took place on December 24 while admission tests for rest of the classes on December 18 to 20.
Benjir Ahmed, district education officer of Dhaka, said, “We are yet to start discussion on admitting students to non-government schools.”
The admission process at government primary schools is completely different. The schools enrol all students who apply and no admission test is required.
According to the Directorate of Primary Education, 31,97,713 students enrolled in class-1 across the country. Of them, 1,87,188 were enrolled in schools of Dhaka district last year.
Secondary-level government schools, which also have primary sections, witness stiff competition for enrolling students. About 3.75 lakh students collected admission forms against 71,263 vacancies for class-1 to 9.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics, there were 23,68,057 class-6 students last year. Of them, 1.10 lakh were in Dhaka district, according to the district education office.
Prof Syed Md Golam Faruk, director general of Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE), told The Daily Star yesterday that they have sent a proposal to the education ministry on holding admission tests at government high schools with a wide range of options.
“We proposed face-to-face exams and online tests. Admission tests with MCQ is also an option. But nothing is final yet,” he said.
Belal Hossain, director (secondary) of DSHE, said, “We are working on the issue of admitting students at non-government schools.”
He, however, said the guideline for enrolling students at public school has already been finalised.
Earlier at a press conference, Education Minister Dipu Moni said there is an apprehension that there could be a rise in the Covid-19 infections during December and January.
“So, we will have to consider the entire admission process. We are in discussion about the matter and will let all know soon,” she told reporters.