Educational psychologist Farhana Afrin said the word 'exam' itself incites fear among children
Despite mixed reactions from teachers and parents, educational psychologists say the government’s decision to not hold any exams for students of grades 1–3 could help reduce stress that children go through at school.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, educational psychologist Farhana Afrin said the word "exam" itself incites fear among children.
“Every year, we see photos and news of students who score GPA 5 in their SSC and HSC exams on the front page of newspapers," she said, questioning how the other students felt.
She explained that people have a tendency to see exams as a battle, where one can either win or lose. "This practice is not healthy for a child," she stated.
The psychologist said that children often do not perform well in exams because it gives them a lot of anxiety, adding that there is no need for exams like the Primary School Certificate (PSC).
She added: “Children should be taught that exams are there for everyone to measure how much they have learned so far. The fear of failing exams, however, creates intense mental pressure on children.”
Furthermore, Afrin fears that if the evaluation process also gets as stressful as exams, children will have more mental pressure.
She urged teachers to practise constructive criticism instead of depending on disciplinarian approaches only.
Requesting anonymity, a primary school teacher from Natore suggested that it would be fine for students from grade one and grade two to not sit for exams.
"However, third graders should sit for exams as they have to take the PSC exams after three years," she said, adding that students will need to master time management to prepare for the exam.
Primary and Mass Education Ministry sources said the decision will be put into effect from 2020, while the alternative evaluation process is still under discussion.
On March 24, the ministry's Secretary Akram Al Hossain announced during the publication of the primary scholarship exam results students from grades 1-3 would not have to sit for any exams.
Arunduty Rani, mother of a nine-year-old, said: “I see other of kids my daughter's age are terrified of exams. We should not impose the concept of competition on children from such an early age.”
She said she had noticed exams creating an inferiority complex among children who cannot excel in them.
Photojournalist Sazzad Ibne Sayed, father of a five-year-old, opined learning should be fun for children, not a burden or something to be scared of.
Children should be taught that education is a part of our life, it is not a competition, he said, adding: “A good score at the end of year should not be the incentive. Instead, we should tell our children if they learn how to read, they will be able to read story books. Every child is unique, and therefore, different approaches should be taken to teach each of them.”
There are currently 122,721 primary schools in Bangladesh, as per the annual report of the Primary and Mass Education Ministry.
A total of 17,111,114 students aged 6 to 10 are enrolled in these schools.
Educational psychologist's take on exams for children
• No exams for students of grades 1–3 could help reduce their stress
• The word "exam" incites fear among children
• Children often do not perform well in exams because of anxiety
• There is no need for exams like the Primary School Certificate (PSC)
• Teachers should practise constructive criticism towards young students