After a year of immense suffering due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the provost committee of Dhaka University (DU) has finally recommended to open up the residential halls for its final year and semester examinees at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
The preliminary move for opening dormitories came immediately after the Ministry of Education has issued a notice for schools and colleges to be prepared for reopening at any time from February 4.
All the 18 hall provosts, pro vice-chancellors (VC) on Tuesday keeping VC Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman in chair, the committee recommended the university authority in this regard.
Confirming the matter, DU Proctor Prof AKM Golam Rabbani said that the recommendation may be placed before the Academic Council of the university which is scheduled to be held on January 31.
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“Since the provosts recommended it, hopefully this will be passed in any decision making body of the university which will be determined by the VC, Rabbani, also the member secretary of the committee told UNB.
Those who were staying at the halls legally before closure caused by Covid-19 outbreak, and were the last year or final semester students in honours and masters classes will only get inside the halls after opening considering priority on their last academic exams, Rabbani said.
Earlier on March 16, the DU authorities suspended all classes and examinations from March 18 till March 28 which extended for several times in line with the decision of the education ministry in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.
Buet, and many other public universities and finally all the educational institutions went on indefinite time closure. In the meantime, they have run virtual classes to avoid session-jam.
According to the Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (Ducsu) polls 2019 voter list, there were as many as 42,000 students in the university. Almost 40% of them reside in the hall along with many illegal students.
So there was a chance of getting infected by the Covid-19 as many students need to stay in the hall. General students in March 2020 protested to shut down the university and recently cried for opening up fearing loss in studies.
Also at least four DU students have been committed suicide during the lock-down due to go on depression for not involving into regular activities, claimed experts and DU teachers.
State Minister of Primary and Mass Education Md Zakir Hossain on Tuesday said educational institutions are likely to reopen any day in February after 11 months of closure forced by the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’re reopening all educational institutions in February. We’ll fix the time in accordance with the given guidelines of the Health Ministry and the Prime Minister. We’re planning to open the institutions in the first and second week of February,” he told reporters at the secretariat.
Zakir said the ministry has already issued a letter as part of preparation to reopen and directed the institutes to follow certain guidelines as well.
The ministry is planning to hold regular classes one or two days a week. Fifth graders will come to schools one or two days and first to fourth graders will join classes one day a week in phases, the state minister said.
About the private schools and kindergartens, Zakir said the government won’t take responsibilities for them since they are not registered with the ministry.
“We wrote to health ministry to bring all teachers and officials of the institutes under vaccination campaign. But students won’t get the jab as per a previous decision,” he said.
Educational institutions were shut on March 16 last year after the country announced its first coronavirus cases on March 8. The closure was extended in phases up to Jan 30.
Meanwhile, the government decided to not to take any Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and equivalent examinations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Also, the Junior School Certificate (JSC) and Junior Dakhil Certificate (JDC) examinations were not held last year.
Also Read: Prepare to reopen: DSHE to educational institutions
On May 7, the University Grants Commission (UGC) published a guideline on conducting courses online, including teaching, taking exams, their assessment as well as admission for private universities.
Bangladesh’s coronavirus fatalities rose to 8,055 on Tuesday while the total caseload reached 5,32,916. The daily infection rate fell to 3.58 percent with a mortality rate of 1.51 percent.
So far, 477,426 patients (89.59 percent) have recovered.
Education Minister Dipu Moni on Monday said that the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examinations will be held on shortened syllabuses.
“Brief syllabuses have been prepared for SSC and HSC students that will allow them to get ready for the exams within three to four months,” she said while unveiling Bangabandhu’s mural at the National Academy for Educational Management (NAEM) in a virtual programme.
Referring to students demanding auto-promotion to the next grade, the minister said that the way the students are demonstrating without following the health guidelines might pose additional risk of Covid-19 transmission.
Highest safety measures will be taken for holding examinations, she said assuring them that there’s no reason to be upset.
“We considered auto promotion of HSC examinees in 2020 as they had already completed their preparation for exams and coronavirus transmission also surged [at that time] but now in 2021, the situation is different,” the minister said.
She noted that students can’t get auto promotion as the infection rate was declining and the examinees failed to prepare properly for the exam in 2021.
On December 29, the education minister said that SSC and its equivalent examinations would be held in June 2021 and HSC in July-August.
The government is planning to hold regular classes for SSC and HSC examinees from February next, she had said.
HSC and equivalent examinations of 2020 were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The HSC results will be evaluated based on the students’ JSC and SSC results, the minister said.
HSC, equivalent results by Jan 28
The parliament on Sunday cleared three amendment bills, paving the path for publishing the results of HSC and equivalent examinations by January 28 next.
These bills are 'Intermediate and Secondary Education (Amendment) Bill, 2021', 'Bangladesh Technical Education Board (Amendment) Bill, 2021' and 'Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board (Amendment) Bill, 2021'.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni moved the bills in the House and those were then passed by voice vote.
It was proposed to promulgate three ordinances amending 'Intermediate and Secondary Education Ordinance 1961', 'Bangladesh Technical Education Board Act 2018' and 'Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board Act 2020' to publish the results of the HSC and its equivalent examinations.
As per the existing laws, there is no provision to publish the results of the HSC and its equivalent examinations without holding examinations.
The bills were placed since it was not possible to hold examinations amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The results will be published after coordinating 75 percent of the SSC and 25 percent from the JSC-JDC results, Dipu Moni said recently.
The HSC batch of 2020 will be the first batch of students who will get certificates without sitting for the examinations as it is the first time in Bangladesh history that a public examination has been cancelled.
Educational institution closure
All the educational institutions were closed on March 16 to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The closure was extended until January 30 this year as there had been no marked improvement in the situation.
Also read: SSC exams in June, HSC July-Aug: Dipu Moni
A number of exams were also postponed during this period.
On Jan 22, the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education ordered the educational institutions to prepare for reopening within Feb 4 by maintaining health guidelines and ensuring safety of the students and the staff.
The DSHE prepared guidelines and asked the educational institutions follow them.
As a part of its ongoing annual scholarship programme for financially disadvantaged meritorious students, US-based oil company Chevron Bangladesh has awarded scholarships to 849 students from 23 educational institutions near its Bibiyana, Jalalabad and Moulavibazar gas fields.
About 64% of the scholarship recipients are female which also included in the total are 66 scholarships for students who achieved excellent grades in the 2020 Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams, said a Chevron press release on Monday.
The average pass rate of Chevron’s scholarship recipients in the 2020 SSC exams was 99%.
Chevron Bangladesh started the scholarship programme with only a handful of educational institutions nearly two decades ago.
Aside from helping students’ overall academic performance, the company’s Quality Education Support Initiative also aims to improve the learning environment of schools near its three gas fields.
In addition to scholarships, support is provided in the form of additional teaching, computer labs, coaching support and endowment fund for selected schools, school uniforms, sports equipment, furniture, infrastructure, sanitation facilities and potable water.
As a part of its corporate social responsibility initiatives, Chevron seeks to promote long-term human progress through its global social investment areas of focus: economic development, education, and health.
Chevron Bangladesh operates and holds a 100 percent interest in two onshore PSCs in Bangladesh covering Block 12 (Bibiyana Field) and Blocks 13 and 14 (Jalalabad and Moulavi Bazar fields).
The government is working on overhauling and revamp the education system, making progressive and uplifting changes.
“Learning has to be fun. And we need to stop the mad race for GPA 5,” Education Minister Dipu Moni said on Sunday.
The government is working on boosting the industry-academia collaboration. And the curriculum is being designed in line with the demand of the industry.
The minister added: “We are also focusing on teaching soft skills to the students. A sense of moral value, integrity and ethics will have to be built in the students, too, while equipping them with skills.”
Dipu Moni was addressing the online webinar “Recover and Revitalize Education for the Covid-19 Generation.”
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) organised it to mark International Day of Education.
“We are trying to break away from a certificate and exam-based education system and trying to focus on continuous evaluation. Learning has to be a life-long journey for the students.”