Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said the reason why the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) pass rate is lower than last year was because of the new testing and evaluation method implemented by Bangladesh Examination Development Unit (BEDU).
Speaking at a press conference at the Secretariat on Sunday, the minister said: “We used to hear a lot of complaints about the testing and evaluation method before. Good students would get bad results and bad students were getting good results because their papers were marked based on the number of pages they submitted. This arbitrary system was adversely affecting how students were evaluated.
“This is why Bangladesh Examination Development Unit was formed at the Ministry of Education. For three years, BEDU has been monitoring how teachers evaluate exam papers. The SSC exam was re-evaluated by the BEDU and as a result, the pass rate decreased by 8%,” Nahid said.
This year the pass rate is 68.91% as opposed to the 74.70% from 2016.
Nahid said it is a big challenge to bring quality education to people but that is exactly what him and his ministry are trying to do.
“There is a problem with the quality of teachers in the country. We have to overcome this lack of trained professionals to meet the demands for quality education. This is a global challenge, how to bring motivated individuals into the teaching profession and increase the quality of education provided,” said the minister.
Educationist Professor Dr Syed Manzoorul Islam English department at Dhaka University also told the Dhaka Tribune that the reason behind the pass rate dropping this year is the new testing evaluation system.
“With the introduction of the new creative questions that require critical thinking and analytical skills, students who are used to memorising all their lives fail to comprehend how to tackle an open ended question that might have several correct answers,” Prof Manzoorul Islam said.
“There is also the fact that because they have taken marks away from the MCQ papers and added that to the creative questions, if a student does not answer those questions well, then their marks automatically fall. What we see is that students who used to excel in the MCQ paper is now failing at answering the analytical questions.
“Dependence on memorising is a huge problem. Both students and teachers need to be excited to learn as opposed to being forced to memorise something without understanding anything,” said Prof Manzoorul.
Regarding question paper leaks, Nahid said: “It is difficult to prevent question paper leaks but this year we were successful because of the joint efforts by the administration, educational institutes and law enforcers.”
He also pointed out that this was the first time the results were published on schedule, 59 days after the exams ended.
“The average pass rate of 10 education boards is 68.91%. Where eight general education boards’ pass rate is 66.84%. Madrasa Education Board pass rate is 77.02%. The pass percentage in Vocational Education Board examination is 81.33%, this year.
“HSC exam results show that 37,772 students achieved GPA 5 across the country,” Nahid said.
In the HSC exam, the Dhaka Board has 69.74% pass, Rajshahi Board 71.30%, Comilla Board 49.52%, Jessore Board 70.2%, Chittagong Board 61.9%, Barisal Board 70.28%, Sylhet Board 72% and Dinajpur Board 65.44%. Some 72 educational institutes failed entirely, while last year, that number was 25.
Professor of CSE at Buet, Mohammad Kaykobad thinks the new evaluation is a good thing but needs proper implementation. Students and teachers need training on critical thinking skills.
“Students must be challenged to think for themselves, once they can hone that skill they can excel at the education system the government is trying to implement,” he said.
Prof Manzoorul Islam said: “We should stop the Primary School Certificate (PSC) and Junior School Certificate (JSC) exams and start focusing on how to build critical thinking skill from class 8. Students should not have be under this much pressure at that age but learn how to learn instead.
“We have to train our teachers and students how to think critically and answer analytical questions and also maybe get their parents to do the same. We have to end all coaching business that builds dependency on memorising everything.”