As the coronavirus pandemic has thrown the country’s education sector into disarray with all educational institutions closed since long, the government is planning to introduce an online system for holding examinations for students from secondary to university levels.
The pandemic, which has been ravaging the entire world, forced the authorities to shut all educational institutions in Bangladesh on March 17 last year to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.It had not been possible to hold last year's Junior School Certificate (JSC) and its equivalent, Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and its equivalent examinations and annual examinations of other classes due to the coronavirus prevalence.
The government had been forced to give auto promotion to students of all classes, including JSC and HSC candidates. But the auto pass did not assess the merit of students properly.
Now, the Education Ministry is working on how to hold the exams at different levels in a logical way.
The ministry is now considering holding all the exams from secondary to university levels under an online system to overcome the crisis.
The Education Ministry has formed two high-level committees to prepare a road map after looking into how countries around the world are taking exams under the virtual system.
On March 24 last, a meeting was held with the Secondary and Higher Education Division Secretary Md Mahbub Hossain in the chair in this regard.From the meeting, a committee was formed, led by Dhaka Education Board Chairman, for putting forward recommendations about a system to hold the exams for secondary and higher secondary level students online amid the pandemic.
Dhaka Education Board Controller (Exam) Prof SM Amirul Islam was made member secretary of the committee.
Asked, he said, "There’s no guarantee that coronavirus will go away anytime soon. So, we can’t sit idle in this situation. We’ll have to try to find an alternative method to hold the exams."
“We’re looking into how countries around the world are taking exams online. “We’ll devise a road map taking opinions of experts and the report will be submitted to the ministry," Amirul said.
The ministry formed another committee with University Grants Commission (UGC) Member Prof Dil Afroza Begum as its head to make recommendations about holding exam at the university level virtually.
Contacted, Prof Dil Afroza said, "We’re working on a summary of how our neighbours India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and other countries around the world are taking exams remotely." “It’s difficult to take exams of the students online in our country as our internet speed is very slow. But no one can say how long the coronavirus situation will prolong. The education system is being destroyed. So, there’s a plan to hold exams virtually to overcome this situation,” she added.
The both committees have been asked to review the current practice of taking online exams at home and abroad and prepare short-term and long-term road maps and submit reports to the Education Ministry by April 12.
Secretary Mahbub Hossain said, "Exams at different levels are being held online but there’s no specific policy or road map in the country."
"Two committees have been formed to look into whether the tests can be recognised under a single policy. The committees have been asked to come up with specific proposals for conducting secondary and higher secondary and university level examinations virtually,” he said, adding that the final decision will be taken after receiving opinions from the two committees.
Ministry sources said on August 27 last year, the second meeting of the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee for the Implementation of the Action Plan under the National Information and Communication Technology Policy-2018, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, decided to hold examinations online.
The Secondary and Higher Education Division and a2i were jointly tasked with implementing the decision. Following this, a committee was formed, led by Additional Secretary (Administration and Finance) of the Education Ministry, with the representatives of the ministries, departments and offices concerned, a2i and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology on November 3 last year.
The committee held a meeting and submitted its report. Later, a meeting of the ministry was held on March 24 to review the report and decide the next course of action in this regard.