There is a possibility of promoting higher secondary-level students without taking examinations, as the closure may be extended further in an effort to prevent a likely second wave of Covid-19
The government has extended closure of all educational institutions across the country till October 31.
The closure may be extended further as health experts think the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic might hit the country soon, which may exacerbate during the upcoming winter season.
In this circumstance, the Ministry Education and the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education have cancelled the Junior School Certificate (JSC) and Primary Education Completion (PEC) certificate examinations for this year and asked the educational institutions to promote students to the next classes through their own evaluation.
There is also a possibility of promoting higher secondary-level students without taking examinations.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni on Wednesday said, "We have observed that many countries had to close their educational institutions again, even after resuming in-person academic activities."
"We are still in danger. This is still not the right time to reopen our educational institutions," said the education minister.
Regarding higher secondary level students, Dr Dipu Moni further said, "First, we will try to take full examinations, but if that is not possible we will try to take exams on a shortened syllabus."
The students will be promoted if it becomes impossible to hold the examinations. In that case, higher secondary level students' results will be given based on their JSC and Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams, the education minister added.
Meanwhile, the education ministry directed the colleges to start online classes for class 11 students under the 2020-21 academic session from October 4.
Dhaka Education Board Chairman Professor Ziaul Haque told The Business Standard that they do not know how the coronavirus pandemic situation might take turn. He also said they have been taking decisions considering that the educational institutions may remain closed for a long time.
Professor Emeritus of Brac University Manzoor Ahmed told The Business Standard that he sees no possibilities of reopening the educational institutions this year.
"The government must take a long-term plan to continue communication with the students. Government and non-government organisations must work jointly in this regard. Otherwise, the nation has to count huge losses," he said.
Shahan Ara Begum, principal of Motijheel Ideal School and College, said they assumed that reopening the educational institutions will not be possible if the number of virus cases rises.
She said, "We are taking online classes and some short-time examinations. We will continue this if educational institutions remain closed for a long time."
"We have to make more plans to continue academic activities," she said.
Prof Dr MA Foyez, member of the government's Public Health Expert Advisor's Group, told The Business Standard, "The first wave is not over yet. It will not be eliminated completely. That is why when the first wave is over, and there is a risk of a second wave."
Professor Nazrul Islam, noted virologist and former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, said it would not be wise to reopen educational institutions at this moment because the infection rate has still not dipped below 5% of the samples tested.
"It is tough to say whether the cases will increase if the institutions are opened, but we are sure that the children will get infected, and so will be their family members," said Nazrul, also a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee.
Dr M Mushtuq Hussain, Covid-19 pandemic control consultant at the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research, said, "Infections are on the rise in our neighboring country India. This is why our risk of infection is higher."
He said in our country, the infection rate was above 20% for two and a half months, and then it came down to 15% in September.
"The infection rate has remained stable at one position for several days. The first wave has persisted for a long period in our country, and if proper measures are not taken to mitigate the spread of infection, a second wave will come," he added.
On March 16, the Ministry of Education issued a press release announcing the government's decision to close all educational institutions and coaching centres from March 18 to March 31, taking into consideration students' safety amid the global pandemic.
Classes have remained suspended since that day, although administrative activities gradually resumed.
The ministry has extended the closure on several occasions: first till April 9, then April 25, May 5, May 30, August 6, August 31, October 3, and finally until October 31.