Dhaka, Sep 30 (UNB) – With no improvement in sight in the coronavirus situation, the government has decided to extend the closure of educational institutions to prevent the spread of the virus, said Education Minister Dipu Moni.
Dipu Moni, however, said they are going to announce a fresh schedule for the long-stalled Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and equivalent examinations either on Monday or Tuesday next.
“The leave is being extended considering the current situation. We must extend the closure. The date will be announced later,” she said while speaking at a virtual press conference on different issues relating to the education sector on Wednesday.
Asked about the guidelines for reopening educational institutions, she said they have already prepared the necessary guidelines that will have to be followed once the educational institutions are reopened."
The minister said the government is focusing on ensuring the safety of the students alongside ensuring their education. “All guardians and students also have concern over the matter.”
She said everyone has questions about the annual, HSC and many other exams, but nothing can be said about this right now. “There’ll be a meeting soon in this regard.”
“We’re now thinking of various options, including giving auto promotion without any test. We’re working on these issues. I’ll be able to inform you about it soon. We’re also observing the situation in all other countries,” Dipu said.
The minister said the government repeatedly extended the closure of the educational institutions due to the prevalence of coronavirus. “There’s no other option, except this one. But students are studying online and they’re in touch with their teachers. “We want everything to get better quickly and we also want to get back to normalcy as soon as possible.”
HSC Exam Schedule
Dipu Moni said they worked out various steps regarding the HSC examinations, and they can announce the full plan, including the exam schedule, by Monday or Tuesday next.
The minister said they will reveal their detailed plans about the extent of the exams and their method.
She, however, said they will give the students at least four weeks to prepare for the exams. “We’ll try to complete the exams in the shortest possible time. We’ll come up with our all plans and proposals on Monday or Tuesday. We’ll take every step in a way so that the exams are not hampered and the students can sit for the tests without any worry.”
Dipu said they will also inform how those who cannot take the exams for various reasons will be evaluated.
The HSC and equivalent examinations were scheduled to begin on April 1, but the government was forced to postpone it on March 22 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Replying to a question, the minister said they all have the preparations, including preparing questions, for the HSC exams as those were postponed at the last stage. “But even if one guardian goes to centers with each of the 14 lakh students, around 25-30 lakh people, including the teachers, will have involvement with the exams. Most of them will use public transport. That's why we’re taking time to make decisions on it.”
She said they will take the exams on the full syllabus since the previous tests were opposed just a few days before the scheduled time.
Dipu said they are making their plans keeping various alternatives since the experts have issued a warning about the possible second wave of coronavirus during the winter.
“Some people are seeking a process of evaluation without examinations, and we’re not ruling out this option as we may not take the exams despite making all efforts. So, we’ve to think about the possibility of evaluation without examination,” she added.
About the O-Level exams, the minister said a total of 6,000 students are set to take part in the tests at more than 35 centers on Thursday. “Only about 1,800 candidates will sit for O level tests every day. So, it’ll be much easier for taking exams, maintaining the health hygiene rules.”
She said the authorities concerned have already been instructed to hold the exams fulfilling all the conditions given by the government for ensuring health safety.
Dipu Moni said they allowed reopening Qawmi Madrasas since those institutions are mostly residential ones.
The madrasa authorities said that they will run the academic activities in compliance with the health safety rules. “That's why they got permission from the government to reopen such Madrasas. They must maintain the health hygiene rules to avert any problem.”
MC College Incident
The education minister said they have been looking into the gang-rape incident in a dormitory of Sylhet MC College. “We’re working on finding out the ways to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.”
About the irregularities at private universities, she said, they are repeatedly asking universities to go to their own campuses. “Some have already moved to their permanent campuses. “If any allegation of irregularities is raised against any university, proper action will be taken through an investigation.”
Dipu Moni said they have already instructed all to remain alert so that the studies of any student are not hampered for tuition fees during the coronavirus pandemic.
All the educational institutions in Bangladesh were closed on March 16 to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The closure has been extended in phases as the transmission of the virus is still going on all over the country.
A writ petition was filed with the High Court on Sunday seeking a stay order on the O and A-level examinations scheduled to start on October 1.
The writ also sought formulation of a policy for the management of English medium schools.
Advocate Moniruzzaman Lincon filed the writ petition with the concerned bench on behalf of A-level examinee Tamanna Tabassum Kabir.
In the writ, it was also mentioned that students could not take preparations for the examinations as their educational institutions remained shut for the last six months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many students of O level and A level did not even receive their admission cards to take part in the examinations on October 1.
Education secretry, secretary and additional secretary of Secondary and Higher Education and the Director of Examination Operations of the British Council have been made respondents to the writ petition.
The HC bench of Justice JBM Hasan and Justice Md Khairul Alam is likely to hear the writ this week, said Moniruzzaman.
The British Council said in a statement on Wednesday (September 23) that the International GCSE, IGCSE, ‘O’ Level and ‘A’ Level examinations for the October-November (2020) session of this year will be held as per the scheduled time.
The British Council also said that the Ministry of Education has given its approval in this regard.
The statement also said that the UK Board of Examiners would evaluate students through exams in the upcoming session. There will be no assessment without examination. However, art and design will be out of the test.
Dr Ali Riaz, a distinguished professor at Illinois State University, has introduced an annual award Ali Riaz Graduate Student Award in the Department of Politics and Government which will recognize the best student in Comparative Politics and International Relations.
This new award was established with a gift from Distinguished Professor Dr. Ali Riaz, who holds the inaugural Thomas E. Eimermann Professorship in Politics and Government, said a press release of Illinois State University issued on Thursday.
The professorship was established by David Crumbaugh ’73 to honor his former professor, who taught law-related courses for 38 years at Illinois State. Eimermann served as ISU’s first pre-law advisor, founded and directed the mock trial program, and was chair of the Political Science Department from 1992 to 1998. The professorship supports the academic work, professional development, research, and teaching salary for an outstanding faculty member in the Department of Politics and Government.
Riaz joined Illinois State University in 2002 and would later chair the Department of Politics and Government from 2007 to 2017. “I am humbled by the opportunities ISU and the department offered me since I joined and wanted to express my gratitude to the students and the department,” said Riaz. “I hope this award will encourage our graduate students to pursue studies in global politics at a time when we live in a deeply interconnected world and have much to learn from each other.”
“This type of support is increasingly important for our students to be able to pursue their education to realize their dreams,” said Dr. Diane Zosky ’80, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This will be a meaningful legacy to Dr. Riaz’s esteemed work at Illinois State University.”
Dr. TY. Wang, chair of the Department of Politics and Government and an Illinois State Professor, is also grateful for the continued backing of faculty like Riaz. “On behalf of the Department,” Wang said. “I want to thank Dr. Riaz for his generosity and continued support of our programs.”
The inaugural recipient of the Ali Riaz Graduate Student Award in Comparative Politics and International Relations will be announced at the Department’s Annual Award ceremony which is scheduled to take place in April 2021.
Noted microbiologist Bijon Kumar Sil, who led the researchers of Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK) in inventing coronavirus rapid testing kits, returned to Singapore on Sunday due to work permit complications.
Dr Bijon left Hazrat Shahjalal Airport around 7.30 am by a flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, said GK’s press adviser Jahangir Alam Mintoo.
“Gonoshasthya Kendra will provide him all-out cooperation so that he gets a visa to come back to Bangladesh. Hopefully, he’ll return to the country soon as he’s always eager to work here,” Mintoo said.
Born in Natore of Bangladesh, Dr Bijon is currently a citizen of Singapore. He has been working as the head of microbiology department of Gono University for nearly one and a half years obtaining a visa and work permit which expired in July last.
Jahangir said the microbiologist could not leave the country after the expiry of his work permit due to the coronavirus-induced travel restrictions.
He said the Gono University authorities have already applied for a work permit for Dr Bijon by submitting all the necessary documents in this regard. “We hope, he’ll be given a work permit allowing him to work for his motherland.”
Dr Bijon relinquished his Bangladeshi citizenship to Singapore as per the rules there while joining that country’s Civil Service in 2002. His wife and two children live in Singapore.
He was appointed to the Gono University in Savar on a three-year contract on February 12, 2019.
A GK team under Bijon’s leadership developed coronavirus’ antibody and antigen kits.
On May 13, GK submitted the samples of GR Covid-19 Rapid Dot Blot antigen and antibody kits to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) authorities for the performance trial.
However, it requested BSMMU on June 3 to suspend the performance study of its coronavirus-testing antigen kit due to the detection of some inconsistencies in the sample collection procedure.
Later, the BSMMU conducted the trial of the antibody kit and found it not fully effective to detect the corona patients.
Following the BSMMU’s report, the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) did not approve the kit.
According to a release of the GK, Dr Bijon invented the PPR vaccine in 1999 to control the goat plague. He also developed the quick test method in 2002 and the SARS virus quick test method in 2003.
As a Singaporean government scientist, Dr Bijon also played a key role in preventing the SARS virus in Southeast Asia.
The academic and administrative activities at the Islamic University (IU) in Kushtia are being hampered badly as the posts of vice-chancellor and treasurer have remained vacant for one month, officials said.
The tenure of IU VC Professor Dr Rashid Askari and Treasurer Professor Dr M Selim Toha expired on August 20.
Since then, the authorities concerned of the university are continuing academic activities through online classes during the coronavirus pandemic.
If the authorities concerned do not appoint a VC or Treasurer then the salaries of the teachers, officers, and employees of the university cannot be disbursed, said IU Officers Association Member Secretary M Abdul Hannan.
IUTA President Kazi Akhtar Hossain said the government should appoint a skilled and experienced person as VC from Islamic University.
University sources say a number of senior teachers are lobbying for the posts of vice-chancellor and treasurer.