Local schools operating under the British education boards Cambridge Assessment International Education and Pearson Edexcel are now assessing grades of an estimated 16,000 candidates of O-level, A-level and equivalent examinations.
Schools are assessing the grades as the government did not allow Cambridge to hold scheduled examination on April 26 amid the Covid-19 outbreak in Bangladesh while Pearson in February cancelled its International General Certificate of Secondary Education, which is equivalent to O-level, and International AS/A-Level globally, according to the British Council, Bangladesh.
Teachers, parents and students of several schools told New Age that they were taking at least three tests for each of the subjects for assessing grades for the candidates following instructions of the British boards and the council.
They said that the council and the boards trained them and were provided specific guidelines for assessing grades of the candidates after the Bangladesh government in March denied the British Council’s application to hold O-level and A-level examinations in Bangladesh.
‘The schools will hold at least three tests and upload an average of the scores with relevant documents and evidences explaining the rationales for awarding grades on the online platforms of the British boards for awarding results in August,’ Green Gems International School principal GM Nizamuddin told New Age on Sunday.
‘The awarding bodies also require specific assurance of how the evidence is gathered and they have provided schools with templates for this,’ Nizamuddin said.
Nizamuddin, also general secretary of the Bangladesh English Medium School Association, said that most schools started tests before imposing restrictions on movements from April 14 and would resume the tests after its withdrawal.
Any grades submitted may be subject to further review by the examination boards and/or additional evidence may need to be submitted at a later stage, he added.
Chittagong Grammar School O-level examination coordinator Faiza Chowdhury said that the school had already arranged three mock tests online following the guidelines and would take another test in May.
‘We believe that the British boards will not be able to alter the teacher-assessed grades as we are providing all documents as per the instructions,’ she said.
Chattogram-based Cider International School principal GC Tripathy claimed that students and parents need not fear as Cambridge set the assessment methods considering the Covid situation.
According to the British Council, 16,000 candidates from 167 school centres were scheduled to take O-Level, International GCSE and A-Level examinations under the two boards.
But many parents like AKM Ashraful Haque expressed concerns about the results arguing that many students might not get expected results as per their calibre for not being able to make preparations and take examinations.
‘The teacher-assessed results published last year after the cancellation of examinations drew widespread criticism and the British boards had to review results,’ Ashraful said.
Ashraf, also president of Bangladesh English Medium Parents Forum, claimed that some English medium schools in Dhaka and Chattogram took mock tests at their centres in March and in the first week of April for making their testing process transparent.
‘They mounted pressure on students to take tests at the schools ignoring the government order, and instructions passed by the British Council and education boards,’ Ashraf said.
The British Council Bangladesh examinations director Jim O Neill claimed that the council had conducted examinations series in many locations around the world successfully during the pandemic.
‘We are able to provide a safe test environment by strictly following the WHO and Bangladesh government-set guidelines. We closely monitor the situation in each country where exams are scheduled to take place,’ Jim O Neill said.
Education ministry additional secretary Mominur Rashid Amin said that the government would take action against schools if they were found guilty of forcing students to take the exams on the campus amid the closure of educational institutions.
Educational institutions in Bangladesh have remained closed since March 2020. The government cancelled primary education completion, junior school certificate and higher secondary school examinations in 2020 for the Covid-19 outbreak and could not even declare any public examination schedule in 2021.