The decision comes after the government announces extension of restrictions on public movement and gathering due to Covid-19
In light of the Covid-19 situation, the government has decided to push back its plan to reopen all educational institutions in the country to June 12.
Education Minister Dipu Moni made the announcement at a virtual press conference at 12 noon on Wednesday.
She said that all secondary and higher secondary level educational institutions would reopen on June 13.
At the same time, State Minister for Primary and Mass Education Zakir Hossain said all primary schools would also reopen on the same day.
Both of them stressed that the health of students, teachers and parents was their highest priority.
“We have taken all kinds of measures in this regard,” they said.
When asked what if the pandemic worsens again in June, Dipu Moni said they would take the next course of action in consultation with the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19.
With Covid-19 cases soaring in bordering districts likely because of the highly contagious Indian variant, experts fear that Bangladesh may face the worst outbreak of the deadly virus by the end of June.
On May 15, the government announced that all secondary and higher secondary level educational institutions would remain closed till May 29 in light of the pandemic, which has so far killed over 12,400 people across the country.
The closure was extended in several phases while online schooling went on.
On May 17, the government announced its decision to ensure vaccination of all students before reopening colleges and universities for in-person academic activities.
How will classes be taken?
Once reopened, the classes of fifth and tenth graders will be held six days a week in compliance with Covid-19 hygiene rules.
Classes of other grades at the primary and secondary levels would be conducted just a day a week—but their number would be raised gradually, the education minister said.
Decision on SSC, HSC and JSC exams
This year’s Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) candidates will take part in the examination after completing their shortened syllabuses in 60 and 80 days of classes respectively, according to the minister.
But the SSC and HSC candidates of the exams to be held next year will have to attend classes on 150 and 180 days respectively.
Unlike last year, the candidates of this year will not be given “auto pass” as they could not attend in-person classes, the minister explained.
Last year’s SSC and HSC candidates were entitled to “auto pass” as they managed to participate in classes physically, thus preparing for the exams, she said.
If the situation remained unchanged, the Junior School Certificate (JSC) and other equivalent exams would be evaluated through assignment, she said, adding that the assignments would be taken twice a week from the first week of resuming classes.
On a separate note, she said the government would take a decision later on closing honours and masters courses at private colleges operating under National University.
Responding to a query on allegations of corruption against the former vice-chancellor of Rajshahi University, the minister said the education ministry would soon sit with the University Grants Commission (UGC) after reviewing a probe report on his alleged scams.
Initiatives for teachers, pupils
The government, the minister said, had finalised a plan to provide 5,000 teachers with ICT training so they could conduct digital classes properly.
Additionally, a total of 33,20800 students were brought under a soft loan scheme, to facilitate internet access for them through the UGC and four telecom operators.
She stated that a survey was being conducted about students who had dropped out during the pandemic.
When do universities reopen?
Regarding the reopening of universities, the education minister reiterated that the dormitories and campuses of universities would reopen after ensuring vaccinations for residential students and teachers.
She added that arrangements were being made to give priority to residential university students and teachers under a new vaccination program, with the prime minister's blessings.
The minister also said a meeting would soon be arranged with the UGC and the university authorities before a final decision was taken on a reopening of the universities.
This year the government initially imposed countrywide restrictions on public movement and gatherings on April 5 and went for stricter restrictions from April 14. The restrictions have been extended several times since then.
On May 23, the government again extended ongoing restrictions on public movement and gatherings for another week -- until May 30, but also allowed the resumption of inter-district travel via public transport at half capacity.
Meanwhile, the authorities concerned on Tuesday confirmed that two Covid-19 patients had been found infected with the black fungus disease -- adding to the concern of a population already in crisis mode due to the pandemic.
One of them is still undergoing treatment in hospital, while the other, who had contracted Covid-19 a month back, died three days ago.
Black fungus, also known as mucormycosis, is normally a rare infection, which has a mortality rate of 50%.
According to doctors, there is a link with the steroids used to treat Covid-19, and diabetics are at particular risk. The fungus seems to strike 12 to 18 days after recovery from Covid-19.