The University Grants Commission (UGC) on Monday allowed final semester private university students to attend practical classes and examinations in person but maintained that viva-voce would be held virtually.
In a directive, the UGC said students and teachers will have to follow health guidelines and physical distancing.
Not more than one class or exam can be taken on each day and a maximum of 10 students can attend each class, the UGC said.
Students will be allowed on the campus half an hour earlier to their classes or exam and will have to leave within half an hour after the conclusion of their classes and exams.
In April, the UGC directed the authorities concerned of private universities to refrain from taking examinations and conducting admission activities online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It also requested all to follow the directives of the government as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO) for preventing the spread of coronavirus.
On May 7, the UGC published a guideline on conducting courses online amid the prevailing coronavirus pandemic for private universities.
Private universities were allowed to carry out unfinished activities (teaching, examination and assessment) of the current semester that have been affected by the pandemic, in accordance with the guideline.
Education Minister Dipu Moni on Sunday asked the authorities of public universities to hold a combined examination for admissions.
Dr Moni came up with the call while addressing a virtual meeting over the university admission system.
The Education Ministry and University Grants Commission (UGC) have been trying to convince the universities to take combined admission test aiming to reduce the hazards of students and guardians.
Most of the universities have already reached a consensus over the matter, she said.
“If we can take combined intake tests, this would be a great gift for our admission seekers marking the Mujib Borsho,” said the Education Minister.
Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah, Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman, Jahangirnagar University VC Prof Farzana Islam, Rajshahi University VC Prof Abdus Sobhan, Bangladesh University of Engineering VC Satya Prasad Majumdar, were also present at the meeting.
The university authorities agreed to sit with the UGC to take decisions over the matter after consulting their academic councils.
The initiative to craft a common admission exam for all public universities predates the pandemic. On January 23, the UGC decided to introduce a uniform entry test in all public universities across the country from the academic year 2020-21, aiming to reduce the plight of the admission-seekers and their guardians.
However, Buet, DU, Chittagong University (CU), RU and JU decided to pass on the opportunity to join the integrated admission system.
On February 10, Dhaka University Central Student Union (Ducsu) suggested the university authorities not to join the combined admission test system.
Also read: Now, UGC proposes cluster admission test
The government has again extended the closure of educational institutions until November 14 to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni came up with the information at a virtual press briefing on Thursday.
The government announced general holidays in late March in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and shut all the educational institutions.
Although activities at both government and private offices were gradually restored, educational institutions have not been reopened.
The previously announced closure of educational institutions is scheduled to end on October 31.
“We’re thinking about reopening educational institutions on a limited scale considering the interest of Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) examinees of 2021. We’re also thinking about it for other students for a short period of time, but everything will depend on the Covid-19 situation,” she said.
Replying to a question, the Minister also said the government is also thinking about reopening colleges for class XI students on a limited scale.
Answering to a question about the deferment of SSC examinations of 2021, Dipu said, “Hope, it won't require. However, everything depends on the Covid situation.”
Talking about the admission process, Dipu Moni said the Covid-19 cases might rise in December-January. “Any decision on admission to schools will be informed later.”
Responding to a question over the admission process of the universities, the minister said, “Everything will be decided keeping in mind the coronavirus situation. Besides, the 4th year students under the National University who have already sat for five examinations can’t be evaluated without taking examinations as they'll represent themselves as job seekers and this will also be kept in our mind.”
She also urged the authorities concerned of the educational institutions to refrain from taking unnecessary fees from guardians during the closure of the institutions.
“We'll give directives in this regard but the school authorities can take fees needed for operating the institutions,” said Dipu.
Besides, no textbook festival will be held next year and steps will be taken to reach the books to the students in time, she said.
Deputy Education Minister Barrister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Naoufel was present there.
Annual exams for secondary school students
The government has decided not to hold any annual examination for secondary school students this year due to the Covid-I9 pandemic.
Besides, the Junior School Certificate (JSC) and Junior Dakhil Certificate (JDC) examinations will not be held this year.
“No examination will be held this year and the students will be promoted to the next class without facing any examination. A decision about certificates will be taken later," said Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni on October 2I.
Talking about the evaluation process, the minister said, “The evaluation of their mark will be done with their previous results as the teachers have the idea about their students.”
The decision on enrolling class VIII students in Science, Humanities and Commerce sections will be taken later, she added.
The National Curriculum Board will prepare a syllabus for completing it within 30 working days for upgrading them to the next class, she said.
Referring to extending the academic year, the minister said, “We'll keep it in mind and whether it's needed or not to be decided later.”
About the next year's admission process, Dipu said no decision has been taken yet in this regard.
No HSC exam this year
Meanwhile, the government decided to not to take any Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and equivalent examinations due to coronavirus pandemic.
Besides, there will be no Primary Education Completion (PEC) and its equivalent Ebtedayee examination for 2020 and the students will be promoted to the next class through class assessment instead.
Education Minister Dipu Moni on September 30 said they are making plans considering various alternatives since experts have warned about the possible second wave of coronavirus during winter.
UGC directives for online education
On May 7, the University Grants Commission (UGC) published a guideline on conducting courses online in light of the prevailing coronavirus pandemic, including teaching, taking exams, their assessment as well as admission for private universities.
Bangladesh coronavirus situation
Bangladesh on Wednesday announced the detection of 1,493 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours and 23 more deaths.
The country’s caseload stands at 403,079 with 5,861 fatalities.
The authorities of Jagannath University (JnU) on Monday suspended a student for allegedly posting derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad.
The suspended student was identified as Tithi Sarker, a third-year student of the Zoology Department.
A suspension order signed by Registrar Md Ohiduzzaman has been issued.
A show-cause notice was also served seeking an explanation why her studentship should not be permanently cancelled.
On Saturday, students of the university staged a protest rally under the banner of ‘general students’ demanding permanent expulsion of Tithi Sarkar within 72 hours.