The public exams could not be held last year and students passed automatically. After a delay of eight months, students started the exams on Thursday.
According to the Inter-Education Board Coordination Sub-Committee, 15,523 of the 515,769 scheduled to sit for the exams did not appear, yielding an absence rate of 3.01 percent.
In 2019, the last time the HSC and equivalent exams were held, 14,988 of 1,093,589 students failed to appear for the exams on the first day, leading to an absence rate of 1.37 percent.
This means the absence rate has doubled since 2019.
The absence rate for the SSC and equivalent exams held in November was also notably lower. The relevant exam authorities blamed it on the pandemic.
There were more absentees in educational institutions that taught students from poorer families, who took a harder financial hit from the pandemic.
Absences were higher among students in the madrasa and technical education boards.
The Madrasa Examination Board counted 6,752 absentees among the 112,271 registered for the Quran Majid exams, leading to an absence rate of 6.01 percent.
In 2019, the Madrasa Education Board saw 2,614 absentees among the 75,753 registered for the exam.
There were 4,587 absentees for the HSC Physics Paper I exam among the nine general education boards on Thursday. There were 4,184 absentees from the Technical Education Board’s exam.