Students head to exam halls amid anxiety

Twice rescheduled SSC exams start amid deployment of 326 BGB platoons

exam 6

Amid tensions and anxiety among examinees and guardians over the political unrest that has rocked the country, the much-awaited Secondary School Certificate and equivalent examinations begin today.

The SSC exams were shifted twice within a week from the original date of February 2 to February 4 and then again to today, due to the BNP-led alliance’s sudden nationwide hartal.

The BNP-led alliance’s 72-hour hartal which started on February 1 was extended another 36 hours up to yesterday evening. The hartal has not been extended further.

“From [today], throughout the country, including in the capital, 326 BGB platoons will deployed to maintain law and order, safeguard the highways and provide security during SSC examinations,” Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) Public Relations Officer Mohsin Reza said last night about security measure being taken.

Nevertheless, examinees and guardians remain edgy after BNP Joint Secretary General Salahuddin Ahmed threatened to enforce tougher programmes from Sunday if the government does not take the initiative to hold elections under a non-partisan government.

Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid repeatedly requested opposition leaders to withdraw the hartal for the sake of the one and half million students scheduled to sit the crucial school final examinations.

The opposition alliance earlier enforced hartals on top of their non-stop nationwide transport blockade to put pressure on the government to accept their demand for fresh polls under a non-party government.

On February 1, Nahid said there would be no examinations on hartal days but examinations would be held in defiance of the blockade programme.

A countrywide transport blockade has been in effect since January 6.

The inspector general of police and director general of BGB said their respective forces would provide security on the streets and at examination centres.

HM Badiuzzaman Shohag, president of Chhatra League, the Awami League’s student wing, said his men would position themselves near exam halls along with law enforcers to ensure the security of students.

Public displeasure

Although the BNP did not show sympathy for SSC examinees, the party did keep O-level exams out of the purview of the hartal.

The decision received massive criticism across the country.

Khaleda’s younger son Arafat Rahman Koko’s two daughters left Bangladesh for Malaysia to sit their examinations, within just 10 days of their father’s funeral.

Civil society members, educationists and other political parties requested the political parties to keep the SSC examinations out of politics.

Against this backdrop, hundreds of students carrying white flags marched towards BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s office seeking the exemption of education, especially exams, from the purview of the blockade and general strikes.

A procession led by the Bangladesh Technical Education Teachers’ Federation went to the office around 12:30pm from the capital’s Gulshan 2 intersection and handed a memorandum to a representative of the BNP chief’s office.

The examinations of Bengali 1st paper, Easy Bengali 1st paper and Bengali Language and Bangladeshi Culture 1st paper will be held on the first day.

A total of 1,479,256 students from 27,808 institutions across the country have registered their names under the 10 educational boards to appear for examinations to be held at 3,116 exam centres. Of the total, 763,339 are male students and 715,927 are female students.

Some 1,110,339 students will appear from the general education board, 256,380 from the madrasa board and 110,295 from the technical education board. Two hundred and ninety-seven students will appear at eight centres from abroad for the public examinations.

The education minister is slated to visit Azimpur Government Girls High School and Alia Madrasa examination centres on the first day of the SSC exams.

Written examinations are scheduled to end on March 10 while practical exams are scheduled to begin on March 16.

Source: Dhaka Tribune

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