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Dhaka Tribune

Govt steps in to stop 'coaching business'

Update : 02 Aug 2013, 02:41 AM

The government intends to hold the medical college and dental college admission tests by the last week of September, in a bid to stop the rampant business of coaching centres.

Seeking anonymity, several officials of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare told the Dhaka Tribune the admission tests were likely to be held on September 20 or 27.

The date would probably be finalised next week when Health Minister AFM Ruhul Haque returns from a trip abroad.

Millions are spent on tuition fees for coaching centres every year, by candidates desperate to pass the competitive medical and dental admission tests and secure a place in medical or dental colleges.

Those who run the coaching centres allegedly turn to "backdoor lobbying" tactics to delay the date to earn more cash.

With the results of the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examinations due to announced on August 3, if the ministry does decide to hold admission tests on the third or last Friday of September, the coaching centres would not have enough time to enrol students in classes.

In this case, most would have to prepare on their own for the tests.

However, coaching centres start classes immediately after the end of HSC examinations. Coaching centres at Farmgate in the capital are crowded with HSC examinees attending classes to prepare for admission tests for higher studies before knowing their results in HSC exams. 

Usually, the admission tests are held in November giving candidates enough time to seek help.

The Dhaka Tribune has learnt it may not be possible for the Directorate General Health Services (DGHS) to hold the tests in September because a number of writ petitions against the directorate are pending with the High Court (HC).

On Wednesday, a writ petition by one Dr Md Eunus Ali Akond was filed with the HC challenging the legality of the medical and dental admission policy.

Following which, the HC issued a show cause notice to the DGHS asking it to explain, within four weeks, why the policy should not be declared illegal.

The petitioner stated according to section 5(5)(6) of the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council Act 2010, the health ministry and the DGHS were not at liberty to decide on the admission policy.

It stated that according to the law, only the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC) had the legal right. 

Existing policy states 0.25 is deducted for every wrong answer given in the admission tests.

DGHS Director (medical education) Professor Dr ABM Hannan however said the health ministry had all the right and had always taken on board suggestions from the BMDC when deciding on the admission policy.

BMDC Registrar Dr Jahedul Haque Basunia told the Dhaka Tribune the council had always been actively involved with admission policy decisions.

In November 2012, a lawyer called Eunus Ali Akond filed a writ petition where he challenged the legality of keeping aside 20% of the seats for district quota and the provision for deducting 0.25 marks.

He said the quota system barred meritorious students from being selected. He stated computers can make mistakes when evaluating the optical mark recognition (OMR) answer sheets.

Akond's daughter sat for medical admission tests in 2012-13 but failed to qualify. He said his daughter would have qualified if her answer script was not erroneously marked.

According to health ministry officials, Akond's daughter attempted a total of 81 out of 100 MCQ questions in the test, with 62 correct answers and 19 wrong answers, earning her 57.25%. As per the rules, after adding the marks she obtained in HSC and SSC, her aggregate mark stands at 157.25.

In the 2012-13 admission tests, the lowest number for a candidate to qualify came to 162.

Last year, in order to rein in the coaching centres, the health ministry decided to enrol students on the basis of HSC and SSC results instead of holding competitive admission tests.

However, faced with students protesting, the government had to retract its decision. An HC order issued consequently asked the government to return to the previous system.

Last year an unofficial announcement by the government said the current academic year (2013-14) would be the last for traditional tests.

No official announcements have however been made since, about how admissions would be made for the next academic year.  

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