A Student Uproar
Photos: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo
The recent conundrum regarding the enrolment of students in medical and dental colleges has sparked a lot of confusions among students. On August 12, 2012, a meeting in the Health ministry with the Health and Family Welfare Minister AFM Ruhal Haque in the chair, made a decision about not having admission tests for MBBS (Bachelor of medicine) and BDS (Bachelor of dental surgery) courses in both Public and Private medical colleges across the country. Students would be enrolled in these courses on the basis of the GPAs (Grade Point Average) they score in SSC and HSC examinations. The decision generated mixed feelings amongst the students. While a group of students vehemently opposed this and took to the streets to protest, another group of admission seekers welcomed the decision. According to a report published in The Daily Star on September, 3 2012, students called off all their demonstrations on the health minister's assurances that an admission test this year would be held like the previous years if the two writ petitions against the government decision about holding no admission test are withdrawn from the high court. The issue is however, raising a lot of questions as the option for enrolling students on the basis of their combined GPA remains open for the coming future.
Preparing for admission tests.
The rationality behind holding or not holding admission tests for the enrolment in MBBS and DBS courses has become a complex issue, as it involves a lot of other concerns like the standard of education during the secondary and higher secondary levels, the evaluation process in SSC and HSC exams, the quality of questions in admission tests and so on. For Aktarazzuman Apon, who has passed his HSC this year from Dinajpur Government High School and College to MBBS and DBS courses are necessary because the evaluation standards of public exams like SSC and HSC are not standardised. “Achieving the top score in both SSC and HSC examinations mostly depends on how much a student can memorise by studying a limited number of materials. Many students largely depend on 'suggestions' which refers to the questions recommended by private tutors or coaching centres that are most likely to come up in the public examinations in a particular year. Plus, all the public examinations are administered by eight educational boards. The boards prepare different sets of questions for the examinees , which is why the difficulty level of the questions vary from board to board every year. As a result, making GPA the only determinant for enrolment in dental and medical colleges will be unfair to the students. So, the real merit of the admission seekers can only be evaluated through a unified admission test for all the dental and medical colleges across the country. These tests are based on multiple choice questions and answers, which are assessed by computers and are likely to be free of any human error,” says Apon.
Protesting the proposal to eliminate admission tests to medical schools.
Contrary to the aforementioned view, Mustakim Ahmed, a an HSC graduate from Notre Dame College, thinks there is no need for admission tests. “The results of SSC and HSC examinations should be enough to make a student eligible to be enrolled in dental and medical colleges. A notable flaw in the current admission test system is that it is actually a trivia test where students are asked multiple choice questions. As a result success in these tests demands a lot of memorising rather than any creative or analytical skills. So the admission to medical college on the basis of CGPA are far more practical rather than selecting students on the basis of a trivia test,” says Mustakim.
Another major concern for the admission seekers is required by the students to qualify for medical or dental colleges. The technical details of how to fill up the limited seats from thousands of top graders in both SSC and HSC examinations are yet to be outlined by the authorities concerned. Abid Rashed, a student from Milestone College, Uttara says, “I will be taking my HSC examinations next year. I want to pursue an MBBS degree from Dhaka Medical College and I am studying very hard for it. However, I am unable to make heads or tails of the newly proposed GPA based enrolment system. How will selection be made in case of students having the smae score after combining their SSC and HSC GPAs? I have recently gathered that the government is planning to prioritise the students for enrolment on the basis of their age and may be even with the process of lottery. None of these methods seem fair to me.”
Supporting the goverment decision.
Analytical skills should be stressed on more.
According to a report published in The Daily Star on August 13, 2012, the proposal for not holding any admission tests for medical and dental colleges was made to prevent irregularities and also to avoid the hassle of holding admission tests for a huge number of students. Afroza Khatun, a student who recently passed her HSC from Rohanpur Yusuf Ali College, Chapainawabganj says, “ I have been staying in Dhaka for a few months only to take classes form a coaching centre which is famous for successfully preparing a lot of its students for admission to medical colleges. The news regarding the GPA based enrolment in medical colleges has taken me completely by shock since I do not have a perfect GPA in SSC and HSC (a grade point average of 5 without the optional subjects). I have been trying my level best to prepare for the admission test. If the government really wanted to prevent the coaching centre business by holding no admission tests, the decision should have been disclosed to the students earlier in the year so that students wouldn't have gone for admission to coaching centres and paid them a considerable amount of money.”
Decisions should be taken in such a way that students are not confused.
So what could be the best way to select students who are best qualified for pursuing a bachelor degree in medicine or dental surgery? Naveed Noor, an MBBS student from Dhaka Medical College, has some suggestions, “Given the context of Bangladesh, public examinations and admission tests are complimentary to each other. While I strongly support the idea of holding admission tests for enrolment to medical and dental colleges, I would also suggest changing the pattern of admission tests by adding analytical questions along with the trivia questions. Plus, it would be very helpful if students from all across Bangladesh can take the public examinations under one unified system to prevent any debate about difficulty level of examinations held under the supervision of different education boards,” says Naveed.
Analysing the above discussion it can be said that no matter what procedure is followed in the coming years, the decision should be discussed with the teachers, students and all the parties concerned and should be announced well ahead before its implementation so that our students are not confused and the future doctors of our country can grow up to their full potentials.