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Absence of English, math exams and short syllabus propelled record SSC pass rate: experts

  • Kazi Nafia Rahman, Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2021-12-31 02:07:50 BdST

Teachers and experts believe the absence of English and math tests, and a short syllabus amid the coronavirus pandemic have led to the record pass rate in the SSC and equivalent exams this year.

They have also called for measures to ensure the students study the left-out lessons to prepare for the future, questioning how much the students have actually learnt.

The pass rate rose to 93.58 percent for the first time in Bangladesh’s history this year. The latest pass rate is a 10.71 percentage point jump from last year.

Approximately 2.2 million pupils from 29,060 institutions sat the exams. Of the examinees, 183,340 or 8.18 percent scored a grade point average, or GPA, of 5.0.

This year’s exams were limited to three elective subjects and an abbreviated syllabus while the question papers offered many options to students, which likely contributed to better results this year, Education Minister Dipu Moni said after the publication of the results on Thursday.

Professor SM Hafizur Rahman of Dhaka University’s Institute of Education and Research pointed to the absence of English and mathematics tests. “Many students cannot pass English and math exams.”   

“Moreover, the exams were held on a short syllabus with many options made available in the question papers. The students were able to answer the questions with little study. So the results were good.”

“Many students from humanities and business studies streams fear English and math. They have done well this time,” pointed out Fahima Khatun, former director general of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education.

Short syllabus and fewer subjects helped the students focus on the lessons, and finally they had enough options to answer, she added.

Sylhet board scored the lowest pass rate last year. This year it has climbed to the second position with 96.78 percent successful students. Arun Chandra Paul, examinations controller of the board, said humanities students have done well this time.

Besides the absence of English and math, and a short syllabus, online classes during the coronavirus-induced shutdown helped the students continue their study, which finally contributed to their scores, he believes.

But the absence of English and math did not do good to all. The scores in these subjects were based on the students’ performance in the JSC exams.

Bijoy Kumar Dey, a student of Jashore’s Gotapara High School, and Farhan Mahi of Dhaka’s Monipur High School got A plus in all three elective subjects in SSC this year.

But poor results in Bangla, English and math in JSC exams pulled their grades down in SSC tests.

“I'd have done well if I could take exams for all the subjects. But now I will have to face the consequences of faring poor in the past for the rest of my life. It’s not the correct evaluation of my abilities,” said a frustrated Bijoy.


After following remote lessons for one and a half years during the coronavirus shutdown, the students got in-person classes for nearly two months to prepare for the exams that started on Nov 14.

Many students did not have access to the internet or devices to join online classes, while the short syllabus and slashing of subjects caused many to shorten their studies as well.

Fahima Khatun, the former director general of DSHE, suggested taking extra classes in higher secondary level, or colleges, to ensure the students learn the left-out lessons.

Prof Hafizur advised rearranging the syllabus of higher secondary education to make the students learn the lessons that were not in their SSC syllabus.

“The students haven’t studied many chapters. They have achieved GPA 5 with that shortcoming. They are in danger of stumbling in the next exams if they do not remain careful.”