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

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

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.

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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


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.

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“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.”

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