- 93% pass rate with a 10.71% percentage point jump
- 20,96,546 students came out successful
- 1,83,340 scored GPA-5
- 22,40,395 students sat for SCC, equivalent exams
- 79,000 were absent
Students suffered massive learning losses owing to the pandemic-forced school closure for 542 days as shown by different studies, but their performance in this year's secondary school certificate (SSC) exams tells a different story with an over 93% pass rate – a record in Bangladesh's history.
The latest success rate saw a 10.71% percentage point jump from the previous rate in 2020, according to data from the education authorities.
Some 22,40,395 students sat for the SCC and equivalent examinations this year. Of them, 20,96,546 students came out successful. As many as 79,000 did not take the exams as they dropped out for different reasons, such as early marriage, child labour and a decrease in families' income.
The number of students who scored grade point average (GPA) of 5.0 under 11 education boards across the country stood at 1,83,340 or 8.8%.
This year's exams were limited to three elective subjects and an abbreviated syllabus thanks to the pandemic-led school shutdown.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina unveiled the results of the exams through videoconferencing from Ganabhaban on Thursday.
During school closures, the education ministry had conducted online classes across the country and also aired recorded classes through Sangsad Television. But nothing worked to offset learning losses with a poor response from students due to a lack of digital devices, costly and unavailable internet facilities.
A study conducted by the Campaign for Popular Education in January 2021 found over 69% of students in the country did not take part in television, radio and online based distance learning programmes during the pandemic, while another joint survey by the Power and Participation Research Centre and the Brac Institute of Governance and Development showed 78.6 lakh primary and secondary school students suffered learning losses caused by Covid-19 pandemic-enforced school closures over the past year.
Depicting a worse picture in rural villages, a recent report of the Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics shows that only 6% of students in rural areas took part in online education during the closure of institutions. Only 24% attended recorded classes at Sangsad Television.
The education ministry also admitted to pandemic-triggered learning losses for students from pre-primary to higher education. Even SSC examinees said they could not learn and prepare themselves properly for the exams.
Professor Emeritus of Brac University Dr Manzoor Ahmed told The Business Standard that answer scripts have not been evaluated properly, leading to a record pass rate this year.
Education experts had recommended taking exams on basic subjects, such as mathematics, but the government held the exams on elective subjects. That is why students passed SSC exams with a lack of basic knowledge, he noted.
Prof Siddiqur Rahman, former director of the Institute of Education and Research (IER) at Dhaka University, said the government should have given students more time to prepare better for SSC exams, which would have helped minimise learning losses to some extent.
Talking about reasons behind such a high pass rate at a press briefing, Education Minister Dipu Moni put a record pass rate down to three factors – exams limited to three elective subjects, an abbreviated syllabus, and many options offered to students in question papers.
Besides, distribution of free textbooks, operating online classes during the closure of educational institutions, and the use of digital instruments also contributed to the good results, she added.
Girls outshine boys
In terms of pass rate and GPA-5, girls outdid boys in this year's SSC and equivalent results although the number of female examinees was fewer than the boys.
A total of 11, 42,094 boys and 10, 98,208 girls took part in the exams, while 10, 58,627 boys and 10, 37,918 girls passed. The total pass rate of girls stood at 94.5%, while the success rate of boys was 92.69%.
Some 1, 03,578 girls and 79,762 boys secured GPA-5.
A total of 49,530 students scored GPA-5 in Dhaka board, 12,791 in Chattogram, 14,626 in Cumilla, 10,219 in Barishal, 4,834 in Sylhet, 17,578 in Dinajpur, 16,461 in Jashore, 27,709 in Rajshahi and 10,092 in Mymensingh. A total of 14,313 students scored GPA-5 in the madrasa board and 5,187 in vocational.
Sneha Saha, who got GPA-5 from Holy Cross Girls High School, said, "I feel good after getting the results. I continued the study despite Covid-19 infection fears. I completed the syllabus which was given by the ministry."
5,494 institutions achieve 100% success
A total of 5,494 educational institutions achieved 100% pass rate in this year's SSC and equivalent examinations, while the number was 3,023 last year.
Of those, 233 institutions are from Dhaka, 398 from Rajshahi, 355 from Cumilla, 255 from Jashore, 54 from Chattogram, 90 from Barishal, 185 from Sylhet, 493 from Dinajpur, 316 from Mymensingh while 2,969 are under madrasa Board and 148 under Bangladesh technical education board.
Meanwhile, no students passed from 18 educational institutions across the country.
Mymensingh board secured highest pass rate
Mymensingh education board achieved the highest pass rate of 97.52%, while the average rate of 11 boards is 93.58%.
The pass rate of other boards are 96.78% in Sylhet board, 96.27% in Cumilla board, 94.80 in Dinajpur board, 94.71% in Rajshahi board, 93.12% madrasa board, 93.15% in Dhaka board, 93% in Jashore board, 91.12% in Chattogram board, 90.19 Barishal board and 88.49% in Technical Education Board.
Professor Md Younus, chairman of Barishal education board, told TBS that they concentrate on quality education not on results. "We have asked the examiners to evaluate exam papers independently. We have also asked them not to give extra marks emotionally."
The evaluation process
SSC exams were held from 14 to 23 November with a shortened syllabus laid out by the authorities, considering the setbacks caused by the pandemic. Other subjects were evaluated on the basis of their previous JSC and JDC exam results.
Last year, the results of HSC examinations were determined based on their previous SSC and JSC results, while students of other classes got promoted to the next classes automatically.
Seat crisis at reputed colleges?
About 21 lakh students passed the SSC exams this year. Of them, 1, 83,340 students got the highest Grade Point Average (GPA-5).
In Dhaka, the number of seats in reputed colleges is one lakh. The number will not be more than 5 lakh in other cities.
Dhaka education board sources said there are 22.23 lakh seats across the country for 11th graders.
However, Professor Nehal Ahmed, chairman of Dhaka education board, told TBS that there is no seat crisis for graders. Even some seats might remain vacant.
He said everyone tries to get admitted into reputed colleges, such as Notre Dame and Viquarunesa. It is possible to be successful from other institutions too.
Mannan Chowdhury, a guardian, said the standard of education in a large number of colleges in the country is not up to the mark. The government should concentrate on developing those institutions.
"Many students who achieved GPA-5 will not be able to get admitted into good and reputed institutions owing to a seat crisis," he added.