English Medium Students: Victims of Negligence & Discrimination

In an unfortunate turn of events this year with the emergence of Covid-19, it turned all of our lives upside down. Not only did it cause an abrupt change in our lifestyle that we took for granted, but also made a huge dent in all aspects of life, ranging from health, economics, social life to much more.

However, among the things that have been affected the most, was the education of an entire generation. All schools and coaching centers have been closed ever since the lockdown started. May/June session O/A Level exams were cancelled. And while English Medium school students were being given assessment based predicted grades, a grave injustice was being done to the private candidates who registered through British Council. They have been neglected from this and not given any sort of predicted grades.

Noted that in times of such worldwide turmoil, private candidates have to come to acceptance of it regardless of how bitter it is. With the hope that everything will come back to normal, and that they will be giving exams safely in November, no one raised any word against the injustice being done against them.

Now, fast forwarding to September, when the spread and death rate of Covid-19 is at its peak, the two examination boards, Pearson Edexcel and Cambridge have decided to take physical exams. Most students are saying they are in no position to be giving the exams in such circumstances. Protests are going-on worldwide through Facebook and Twitter. In Nepal, all exams have been cancelled. And In Pakistan, students have been protesting physically for days, and are now waiting hear the government’s decision to cancel all exams.

However, the situation for Bangladeshi English Medium private students is more terrifying. When students who are hesitant to sit for the exam in such circumstances, sought for the government’s interference on this matter, they got orphaned, having to hear that the Ministry of Education can’t help and stop British Council from conducting exams since English Medium students do not fall under the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB). According to the student groups, in the past few weeks, nothing hurt more than knowing that not even their own government wants to take responsibility for their safety and future, in this horrific situation.

To make things worse, it has been reported informally that many candidates and their parents have been tested positive for Covid-19, which puts thousands of other candidates at risk. In such situation, where students are not prepared, physically, mentally or academically, thinking of all the possible outcomes if the physical exams are held, the students protested on 20th September, to demand once again for the government’s intervention in this regard. They said that they will keep on protesting until the government decides to intervene.

When asked about irony of why they are protesting physically while demanding the cancellation of exams, one of the students replied: “We are not dumb, of course we know it’s not safe. We have been trying to reach the concerned authority’s attention for over a month now through mails, calls, messages, petitions and what not. However, they all turned a blind eye to us.” Another student added, “This issue doesn’t only concern our health safety, but also our future. All of us have aspirations and goals. If this exam is held, most of us are sure to score poorly, and it will have a horrible impact on our goals and our university admissions.”

Some of the points mentioned by many students have been given below:

  • PM Sheikh Hasina warned everyone to stay prepared for the second wave of Covid-19.
  • Safety precautions taken by British Council are not safe enough.
  • Many candidates and parents are Covid-19 positive.
  • Discrimination against private students in the grading system.
  • Most teachers are not experienced in teaching online.
  • Students are inexperienced in learning online.
  • Lack and unavailability of resources.
  • No laboratory classes in the past 7 months for subjects which have practical exams.
  • Students are suffering from mental stress.
  • Weak students do not understand online classes properly.
  • Home tutors haven’t been coming since the start of Covid-19.

Wordsmith: Tazoar Ahsan

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