The Secondary School Certificate pupils have had nearly seven additional months to study due to deferrals caused by the pandemic and floods, but many of them say they lost focus due to the delay.
Over 2 million students have registered for the secondary school-leaving exams starting with Bangla first paper test on Thursday.
Delayed by three months due to the pandemic, the SSC and equivalent exams were supposed to be held in June, but devastating floods right before the tests pushed it further back.
Three months on, the students from the flood-ravaged areas said they were happy to be able to sit for the exams despite not fully recovering from the damage the deluge caused to their studies.
Many students who were not affected by the floods reported having suffered mentally during the break.
Shatarupa Rani Das, a student of the science stream at Dasher Bazar High School in Moulvibazar, thought she would not be able to take the tests after floods destroyed her books and notebooks along with the family’s belongings, plunging them into hardship. She later got new books, but her notes were lost.
“I was ready for the exam at the time. Physics, chemistry, and mathematics problems were solved in the notebook. This time, I couldn't study like before. I’ve studied with the help of my teachers and friends. Hope the exam goes well.”
Tarekul Hassan of Bishwambarpur Government Model High School in Sunamganj suffered a similar fate and he was worried about continuing his studies after that.
He said that he can forget the misery of the floods in the joy of taking the exam, "It is great that I can take the exams after all these. The teachers helped, and gave us books. I am happy that I got some time to prepare."
Teachers in the affected areas say that they have tried to make up for students' loss of learning by taking extra classes, yet the floods will have an impact on the tests.
A total of 132 students of Bazar High School in Kanaighat Upazila of Sylhet are taking the SSC examinations this year.
Matiur Rahman, the acting headmaster of the institution, said that those whose books were destroyed received new books after July. The candidates have prepared as much as possible in the next one and a half months.
“Many used to prepare notes. They had to learn mathematics solutions anew. But they were very enthusiastic. Hopefully, they will overcome the loss and do well in the exam.”
Matiur said that many students were mentally disturbed after losing everything due to the floods. “They had no place to live, it was uncertain what to eat. They were busy repairing houses. We have contacted many. The children discussed their problems with us.”
Dipak Ranjan Das, the headmaster of Dasher Bazar High School in Moulvibazar, said, “We instructed the teachers to solve the problems as soon as the students came. They did it, and the children also studied.”
Dipak’s school has 220 SSC candidates this year.
Mentioning that the communication system in the area is still poor, he said, “Roads, bridges that were damaged, have not been fully repaired. Candidates will face some difficulty to come to the centre.”
The teachers of Sonapur Model High School in Doarabazar of Sunamganj are satisfied that all the students are able to take the SSC exams.
Siddiqur Rahman, the headmaster of the school, said, "Even the lives of the examinees were at risk due to the flash floods. Books, notebooks and pens were all washed away. They had to restart studying with the new books.”
STUDENTS FACING DIFFICULTY TO PAYING ATTENTION
Muhaimina Islam Muhu, an examinee of Dhaka's Shaheed Bir Uttam Lt Anwar Girls' College, could not accept the news of the postponement two days before the examination.
“I have suffered a lot due to the delay in the exams. I didn't even think the exams would be postponed. I was completely shocked. Neither did I think that the exams would be taken again. I could not study for a month and a half. I couldn’t focus on my studies.
“It was also announced much later that the exams will be held. That's why we were in uncertainty. I revised [the lessons] with a lot of difficulties. It wouldn't have happened if the exams were taken then.”
Her mother Nahid Farhana Chowdhury, a physician, said that Muhu was mentally broken after hearing the news of the postponement of the exams.
“They have already suffered due to the coronavirus. The exams were delayed by seven months in total. They will get less time for the Higher Secondary Certificate exams. That tension is overworking [in them]."
She said, "The announcement of the exams also came after about a month and a half. It has scarred the children's minds. I made her study after explaining a lot. It has started raining again. She is tense, thinking that the exam may be postponed again.”
Fariha Rahman, an examinee of Monipur High School of Dhaka, also could not pay attention to her studies after the exams were postponed.
“I took preparation, but without practice, it is not possible. Friends were saying that they [the government] will promote us automatically. I have started studying since I got the routine. Couldn’t study much. I've studied for the last month, let's see what happens.”
Shahriar Emon, a candidate of Mirpur’s Little Flowers Preparatory School, prepared for the exams but worried about social science, religion and information technology.
“There will be no test on these three subjects. I got an ‘A’ grade (4 points out of 5) in bangla and religion in Junior School Certificate exams. I am afraid more about that. Because I could have done better had the exams been held. Many do poorly in JSC, but well in SSC.”
Expressing concern as dengue fever is increasing, Shahnaz Parveen, mother of Minhaj Talukder, a candidate of Dhaka’s Engineering University School and College, said, “If he is infected in any way during the exams, he will not be able to continue. The government should ensure that there is no breeding of mosquitoes in the exam centres.”