Bangladesh extends educational institution closure

Staff Correspondent | Updated at 11:40pm on May 16, 2021

The government has extended further the closure of educational institutions to May 29 from May 22 to contain Covid infections.

The primary and mass education ministry and the Secondary and Higher Education Division under the education ministry in separate press releases said that all primary schools, kindergartens, madrassahs, secondary and higher secondary educational institutions and universities would remain closed till May 29.

All the institutions have been instructed to continue online classes during the closure and students and their parents have been asked to follow health guidelines.

The decision to extend the closure of the educational institutions came from a Cabinet Division meeting with the national committee for mitigating the Covid outbreak, said the releases.

Educational institutions have remained closed since March 2020 for the Covid outbreak, resulting in a huge impact on the academic life of an estimated four crore students in the country.

Different government and private studies carried out in the past few months also projected an increase in dropout rate that would boost child labour and early marriage.  

Candidates of Higher Secondary Certificate and Secondary School Certificate examinations said that their preparations for the public examinations were hampered as the government could not announce any examination schedules for Covid-19 while public and private university students said that they were leading towards a session jam.

‘We do not think that universities would resume normal activities soon for Covid-19. The government has not even arranged vaccine for residential students for reopening the universities as per the plan,’ said Ziaul Hassan, a Dhaka University student.

‘We will face a session jam and the alternative online-based examinations that the university is planning to hold from July will not be effective,’ Ziaul said.  

University Grants Commission chairman Kazi Shahidullah told New Age on Sunday that the commission would request the education ministry to review its February decision of not holding any examinations at public and private universities for creating a room for holding online examinations to ease any session jam.

‘We have already given clearance to public universities to hold online examinations after getting approval of the respective academic councils following our guidelines for ensuring a minimum standard. We will also ask private universities to hold examinations taking our approval,’ Shahidullah said.

A government-formed committee, led by Dhaka education board chairman Nehal Ahmed, however, has yet to submit its report as asked by the education ministry in March to suggest an alternative to holding public examinations.

The committee was formed as the government decided not to hold public examinations in conventional ways amid the Covid outbreak, ministry officials said. 

In the past year, the government had to cancel HSC, Junior School Certificate and Primary Education Completion examinations for Covid-19 and had to publish HSC results based on candidates’ previous SSC and JSC results that drew huge criticisms.    

Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education director general Syed Golam Faruk and Directorate of Primary Education director general Alamgir Muhammad Mansurul Alam said that educational institutions under their jurisdictions were asked not to give assignments to students till the restrictions on movement continued.

The Cabinet Division on Sunday further extended restrictions on movement till May 23.