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‘Think about the students’

Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid has again asked the BNP-led alliance to withdraw the countrywide blockade to avoid violence during the forthcoming Secondary School Certificate and equivalent exams.

A total of 14.79 million students will take the exams scheduled to start on Feb 2.

The minister spoke at a press briefing on Thursday.

“They should respond to our request. Look at the students, think about them and the ones who were burnt to death. Withdraw these agitations.”

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, who is leading the anti-government agitation demanding a snap general election, called for the nonstop blockade after being barred from holding a rally on Jan 5, the first anniversary of the last general election.

Cases of arson, bombing and vandalizing have been frequent since then.

The 20-Party Alliance has also called for several strikes amid the blockade.

The SSC and equivalent exams are scheduled to go on until Mar 16 with theoretical exams ending on Mar 10 and practical exams starting after that.

The minister had earlier said that the exams would not be delayed.

When asked if the exams will be postponed if the blockade persists, he said, “We can say that only after analysing the situation.”

Nahid said the students of 27,808 schools will take the exams in 3,116 centres.

Last year, over 14.32 million students took these exams. This year, around 46,000 more students may take them.

All the subjects this year will have creative questions barring Bengali second paper and English first and second paper, said Nahid.

The creative format of the questions will include General Maths and Higher Maths for the first time this year.

New subjects, Physical Education, Health Sciences and Sports, have been included this year. Their questions will be in creative format, he said.

Students with visually impairment, cerebral pulse induced disabilities or hand problems would be able to take the exams with the help of scribes. They will get an extra 20 minutes of time, said the education minister.

Nurul Islam Nahid also felt chances of questions leak this year was dim in view of precautions adopted.

“We are fully cautious. But chances of creating confusion through Facebook remain. We have taken measures for removing them (leak contents) as soon as they gets up on Facebook.”

Earlier in late November, the minister had spoken of the government planning to shut out mobile phone networks and social media sites during public exams after being stung by widespread criticism of question paper leaks.

In 2013, the administration was forced to suspend SSC exams of 37 subjects and HSC exams of 41 subjects due to BNP-Jamaat shutdowns.

The same year 17 JSC-JDC exams of and two primary and Ebtedayee exams were postponed and delayed due to shutdowns.

Last year, too, several exams were postponed for the shutdowns.