The government had planned to hold the exams by shortening the syllabus and holding a limited number of classes, but now the education ministry has to watch the outbreak situation.
The students and their parents have complained of huge disruption in study due to the shutdown. The short syllabuses has also drawn questions.
The HSC candidates are worried about university admission after the tests. Some of them want quick resumption of in-person classes and exams; some others are not sure whether it will be a good idea amid the pandemic.
The educational institutions have been closed since March last year. The government had announced a schedule for the reopening earlier this year when the number of COVID-19 cases dropped, but a second wave of infections forced the authorities to scrap the plan.
The schools and colleges will remain closed at least until May 29.
The authorities usually held the SSC exams in February and the HSC tests in April every year before the pandemic.
Last year, at the onset of the pandemic, the SSC tests were completed, but the HSC exams were postponed.
As the institutions remained shut, the students were promoted automatically to the next classes without exams after holding classes online.
The HSC results were published by averaging the candidates’ grades in JSC and SSC.
The argument in favour of scrapping the HSC tests was that the students had finished study through in-person classes and exams.
Things are different this time. The students relied on remote learning to follow the lessons of classes 10 and 12, the final years before SSC and HSC exams respectively.
But the question remains: how much have the students learned their lessons? So the government is not ready to promote the SSC and HSC candidates automatically this time.
Officials at the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education or DSHE say that the exams schedule depends on the reopening after the coronavirus crisis eases.
In that case, pupils will have to wait at least two and a half more months after the resumption of in-person classes.
Syed Md Golam Faruk, director general of DSHE, said the government will hold the exams two weeks after the completion of 60 in-person classes for each SSC subject and 80 classes for HSC.
So, even if the classes resume after May 29, the exams are not going be held before the end of August.
To make up the lost ground, many parents want the institutions to reopen now.
“Won’t they have in-person classes if the coronavirus crisis lingers on for five years?” asked Faridul Islam, whose son studies at Government Bangabandhu College in Dhaka.
He suggested holding classes with a limited number of students by adhering to the health rules.
“The suspension of classes and exams is dragging the students back. The government needs to make a decision quickly.”
Nurul Islam Monir, the father of a student of Monipur School and College, said the institutions can hold classes for two days a week.
“Otherwise,” he warned, “a huge gap (in academic achievement) will remain in the lives of the students.”