Bangladesh

A-Level Exams: Students negotiate a new reality

Advanced Level examinations of the October and November session began yesterday amid parents' concern about the grades their children would get as many could not prepare for the tests properly due to the closure of schools.

Many were worried not only about the health safety at exam halls but also on their way to and from the exam centre.

"We are worried about what grade my child will get ... She could not concentrate on her studies. I had advised her to adjust to the situation," said a guardian waiting outside Oxford International School exam centre in the capital.

Anjum Ara said as school remained closed since mid-March, candidates could not take their desired preparations for the exams.

Parents said they were compelled to allow their children to sit for the exams in this situation because it could otherwise spoil an academic year.

"I am really tensed about the health safety of my child," said a guardian.

The exam authorities were seen allowing candidates who wore mask, one by one, at the exam centre and asking them to use hand sanitisers.

To avoid large gatherings outside the Oxford International School exam centre, the entrance was opened about one hour before the exams started.

Several candidates after the exams told this newspaper that the exam authorities kept at least two metres' distance between seats.

Ahsan Sujon, a British Council representative and an exam duty officer, did not allow this correspondent to go inside the exam hall.

At least three candidates after the exams said they did not have to sign any kind of consent form stating that candidates will bear "responsibilities if they get infected with Covid-19".

Some examinees on Tuesday and Wednesday alleged that they learnt that the British Council Bangladesh will take signatures in the consent form.

Asked about it, a British Council Bangladesh spokesperson on Wednesday avoided answering the question.

But the spokesperson said, "A consent form will be made available to candidates at the venue to confirm that they are fit to sit for the exams."

On September 22, the Bangladesh government allowed the British Council to administer the exams with some conditions and one of that was that the council will bear the responsibility if any student gets infected with Covid-19 while attending the exams.

Two UK boards, Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) and Pearson's Edexcel, arrange O- and A-level exams internationally. British Council Bangladesh administers the exams in the country.

A-level exams under Cambridge started yesterday, and those under Pearson's would start on October 5. Pearson's Ordinary-level exams are set to start on November 2 and Cambridge's on November 5.

About 5,200 students in Bangladesh have registered for the exams.

The High Court on Wednesday rejected a writ petition seeking its order on the government to postpone the exams. An A-level student filed the petition.

A group of candidates protested holding of the exams amid the pandemic and demanded cancellation of the exams. They also demanded grades based on their previous results, a process known as "predicted grades".

In May-June session, educational boards globally decided not to stage exams due to the pandemic. Instead, they prepared results based on predicted grades and previous academic records submitted by schoolteachers. 

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