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OP-ED: When you are an HSC student in 2020

  • Published at 12:34 pm October 10th, 2020
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Was the decision to cancel HSC exams the right one? 

here is a reappearing question passing through every HSC examinee’s mind: What does our future look like? 

There was much uncertainty over the HSC and equivalent examinations. The government’s decision on the test has put an end to that concern. The government has decided not to hold this year’s Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and its equivalent examinations in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

According to the Dhaka Tribune, 1,365,689 students were supposed to sit for the exams. Now, they will be evaluated based on the results of the two major public examinations they sat for previously -- Junior School Certificate (JSC) and Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and their equivalent examinations. 

The exams were scheduled to start on April 1, but the exam was initially deferred because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since it is not possible to take the test due to safety concerns, this decision of the government deserves applause. 

Amid many uncertainties, it needs to be seen as a better solution unlike the decision over “O” and “A” levels. But it is crucial to make sure that no group of students are left disadvantaged.

Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. As stated by UNICEF, as of September 30, 2020, approximately 1.077 billion learners are currently affected due to school closures. 

Moreover, 53 countries are currently implementing nationwide closures and 27 are implementing local closures, impacting about 61.6% of the world’s student population. In Bangladesh, the government closed all educational institutions from March 17 and the closure has been extended multiple times.

While reviewing the government’s decision with my elder brother, a gold medalist from Dhaka University, he told me: “The matter sounds puzzling. On the one hand, it seems that some students will be treated unfairly. On the other, it is an emergency measure. Indeed, this is a multidimensional problem. Amid many uncertainties, there is apparently no solution that would favour everybody.”

Students had been waiting for a decision since March. Studying does not make sense without knowing when and for how long the information needs to be retained. Moreover, rumours and misleading reports pertaining to HSC and institutions reopening amidst the pandemic were circulating. 

These paved the way for stress. But now, finally, they are free from that mental anguish.

However, there exist counter-arguments. Following the announcement, examinees are now concerned over admission to universities. Many students who do not do well in earlier board exams often look at a chance to recover with their HSC results. 

For instance, my GPA in JSC was 3.5, in SSC 4.75 and HSC 5.00. This year, there will be no such opportunity to improve. Some students argue that this decision will impact their future lives. Some say jokingly: “Oh, you are from HSC 2020 batch? You passed without a test.”

However, all feet tread not in one shoe. The world is struggling just to survive; we cannot consider everything to make everyone happy. 

It would have been troublesome for many students to take part in the test using public transport. HSC examinees need to prepare for the future. In the words of American cinematographer Conrad Hall: “You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.”

Md Jahid Hashan is a recent graduate of political science from Dhaka University.