Holding exams, bringing education back to former state not the same

After a year and half, the schools of the nation were finally opened, and students were welcomed back into classes on September 12. However, according to Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education the rate of absenteeism has increased in secondary schools over the past two weeks.

In this context, The Daily Star sat with Brac University (BracU) Professor Emeritus Manzoor Ahmad, also director of BracU's Institute of Educational Development, to discuss the issue.

The Daily Star (DS): The attendance rate was 67 percent for secondary schools on the 12th of September but it fell to 56 percent just 15 days after. What could be the reason?

Manzoor Ahmed Everyone was happy with the choice to open schools again and to keep health guidelines.

The students accounted for two-thirds of them to school (on the 12th of September) The results were not enough, and the number is declining. This decrease in attendance is a major cause for concern.

Students would like to take classes, however their parents are concerned about various problems. Numerous studies and surveys have shown that guardians and students are in a state of financial distress which is why many kids are working to help their families that is known as child labour. Additionally child marriages are increasing.

Many students could even quit school.

DSL:There concerns that many students who are absent will not go back to school, what do you do you think?

ManzoorThis has become a huge issue. We discussed dropouts and other issues during the time that schools were shut, but officials from the government said that students are completing assignments online and are taking classes online.

The officials also said they are in contact with students and there's no issue. However, now we are able to observe the effects of the closing.

DSL:What steps can the government take to get students back?

ManzoorOnly directives from the high officials won't work. We have to be involved in discussions. Local committees should be formed composed of local representatives, guardians as well as school committees. They should inform each other about ways to return students who are not in class.

D:Did find any government-sponsored plan in the past to prevent possible absences from work following opening?

Manzoor Educational officials have always have tried to promote the idea that everything is in order and that there won't be any problems.

There were some guidelines and instructions but they won't work. A plan was developed for reopening schools, but there was no plan for recovery that is crucial since students were deprived of nearly two academic years.

It appears it is the case that government officials are taking measures to hold public tests, as if this is their main task. Exams in addition to bringing back education into its previous state are two distinct things.

Ten educationists in a group statement last week emphasized the importance of bringing students back to school and stressed that the greatest importance should be given to the safety of students and their mental health.

There shouldn't be any pressure on students to pass exams right after the reopening of classes because, during the past two and half year, students faced diverse kinds of difficulties.

They also suggested prolonging the current academic year , and rapidly determining how well-prepared pupils are in their academic proficiency, as well as other important steps.

We hope that the government will take note of the most important issues. The situation is unique and the traditional methods to tackle this problem will not suffice.


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