The education ministry on Wednesday accepted the British Council application for holding the O and A level examinations with some conditions amid students’ continued demand for cancellation of the exams due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Education minister Dipu Moni approved the British Council plea for holding the A-Level exams in October and O-Level exams in November with conditions that the exams would be held maintaining COVID-19 health guidelines, education ministry additional secretary Mominur Rashid Amin told New Age.
Up to 1,800 students should be allowed to sit for any examination at the 35 centres across the country in a day, according to the conditions.
The British Council will be responsible if any student gets infected with COVID-19 while attending the exams, Mominur said.
‘The education ministry preserves the right to cancel the exams anytime if the situation demands’, he said.
The educational institutions in Bangladesh will remain closed till October 3 if the closure is not extended further for the COVID-19 outbreak.
The British Council on September 20 applied to hold the examinations under the UK boards, Cambridge International and Pearson Edexcel.
A-Level exams under the Cambridge are scheduled to start on October 1 and the exams under the Pearson are scheduled to begin on October 5.
Pearson’s O-Level exams are scheduled to start on November 2 and the exams under the Cambridge are scheduled to start on November 5.
Around 5,200 students are scheduled to sit for their exams at centres in Dhaka, Chattogram, Sylhet, Narayanganj and Khulna, according to the British Council.
‘In the upcoming October-November 2020 exams, UK exam boards will base results on students’ performance in the exams alone and not on any non-exam assessment, with the exception of art and design qualifications,’ the British Council told New Age.
Some O and A level candidates at a press conference at the National Press Club on Thursday demanded that the government should request the British education boards to cancel the exams considering ground realities in Bangladesh.
They also sought grades for students based on the school-predicted results.
They argued that it would be risky and uncomfortable for them if they took exams amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The students said that they could not take required preparations for the exams as the educational institutions in the country had remained closed from March.
‘Online classes are not an effective method for learning as we cannot communicate with the teachers even if we do not understand a lesson,’ said Choudhury Shamsuzzaman, a Maple Leaf School student.
‘We think that the British education boards and the British Council are behaving in an inhumane way by forcing us to sit for O and A level exams amid the COVID-19 outbreak,’ he said.
AFM Abdur Rahman, Ranak Chowdhury and Simran Chowdhury, among others, were present at the press conference.
Earlier, on Sunday students formed a human chain demanding cancellation of the exams.
The British Council said that it was aware of the significant and unfortunate disruption faced by the students and their families amid the Covid-19 pandemic and requested the parents and candidates for their ‘incredible patience’ during these uncertain times.
‘The health and safety of our students remain our top priority and all British Council activities will be carried out in line with Government of Bangladesh Covid-19 protocols, international best practice and prevention and control mechanisms outlined by World Health Organisation,’ it said.
The British Council expressed gratitude to the education ministry for allowing the boards to hold the exams.
It declined to comment on the conditions set by the ministry.
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