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Scholastica's O' Level Graduation '08

Graduation Ceremonies are always made up of a lot of memories, bundles of screams and shouts, stacks of words of appreciation and fortitude, many pictures, heavy hearts and a few drops of silent tears as the graduates move on to the next stage of their life. School and college life are supposed to be the best time of a person's life… and that time for many Scholasticans just officially ended on the 29th and 30th of June.

Scholastica celebrated the graduation of its O Level class of 2008 candidates on the on the 29th of June with the program being held at the STM hall where the students, with red ribbons wrapped around them, were handed over certificates by Ms. Wasima Parveen, Ms. Madiha Murshed and Ms. Shabnam Sobhan among others. With over 210 students graduating from the O' Level batch, it took quite a while to get through the long list of sections from A to G!

A mixed presentation titled “Tribute to Great Leaders” was performed to inaugurate the ceremony with the apparent intention of inspiring the graduates. With students dressed up as Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. (with his famous I Have a Dream speech), Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa, the audience almost got a taste of what these great men and women would be like if they Bangladeshi born. If this didn't keep the audience from yawning, a final pre-planned “surprise” dance sequence with “Dham Dharaka Dhishting Dhishting” music was sure to keep the audience wide awake.

Other than graduating certificates, awards relating to Debate, Drama, Community Service, Newsletter, Perfect Attendance and Outstanding Academic Achievement were also given out and several students grabbed a handful of them. The Valedictory speech followed next where it was officially acknowledged that Scholastica did manage to turn the lot from a “macher bazaar” to (nearly) Homo sapiens.

The final speech delivered by Mrs. Wasima Parveen talked about the accomplishments of Scholastica, what a school and college means to a student's life, her hopes for the graduates and requested all students who are leaving abroad for higher studies, to come back and contribute to a developing Bangladesh, in any way possible.

It is really difficult to bring about such an abrupt end to so many fond memories with the school and college. Nonetheless, one thing's for sure; the memories (both good and bad) will live on, sometimes haunting, sometimes bringing tears and sometimes conjuring laughter to the lot. A heartfelt congratulations to all the graduating students!

By Adnan M. S. Fakir

Unprecedented result in SSC: A Debate

The results have been published, and all records have been broken. Newspapers all over the country has reported that this year, an excess of 70% students have scored passing mark or more in all subjects, an achievement that had not been observed in the recent past. There is also an unprecedented increase in the number of GPA 5 holder. Let us look at the statistics of the current year. In 2008 a total of 10,06,569 students have written the SSC exam in all boards (including Madrasa and vocational) and out of them a record 7,26,563 have secured passing score. The number of GPA 5 scorers are 41,917 which is up from last year's 32,646 (source: various news papers). Also according to the sources, this year, there were 50,000 less students who appeared the exam.

No doubt that the year has produced the best possible results overall. The students who have worked hard to achieve this feat ought to be congratulated for their success, but unfortunately, this opens up the age old debate regarding the future of these children and the system of education in our country. But before delving in that debate, let us look at the official explanation of this record success. According to the government education ministry, the huge number of passes (and subsequent GPA 5s) is due to the directive of the board to the examiners to check the papers carefully so that there is no discrepancy in the results. Also the examiners are requested to produce 1 or 2 marks as grace to students who scored 78 or 79 so that they are able to score A+ in those papers (according to Amader Shomoy), specially in Math and English. No doubt (according to Prothom Alo), that this years GPA 5 holders did better than any other years in these two subjects, and that is exactly where the debate is.

For the Students
They deserve the provision that the Government and the education ministry has done for them, more stringent and careful examination of their papers. Apparently this came on the heel of the allegation that about 2000 students last year missed A+ due to the examiners failure not to check the papers carefully (Amader Shomoy). Also it is a good thing that more and more students are actually doing better and are passing. The fact that scores close to 80 in English and math has been specially reconsidered, it will hopefully give more encouragement to get over the fear of English and Math which exist amongst our students.

Bangladesh is a poor country and there are very little incentives for the poorer students to give extra time to their studies when they could have used their time to earn money. We get to hear stories of poor but smart students who work the whole day and spare just a little time at night to pursue their dreams of a brighter tomorrow. So at least a pass result for them would mean that they wont be dropped out and will find something to hold onto for their colleges.

But then again…
The fact that a system of grace marks is offered to the students means that it doesn't really do justification to the board set marks scheme where you ought to get 80+ to get an A+. If you are giving away grace marks, then what is the point of having a reference grade system? In O level system, the grade awarded is not based strictly on a pre configured system, but vary year to year, depending on the overall level of exams. This means that you may get an A in maths for scoring 80, but in English you get A by scoring only 60. This also varies year to year to reflect the overall standard of examination and the toughness of the paper they write. But this isn't the system with SSC. Unfortunately the decision to award graces does not reflect careful thinking by the decision makers and is totally arbitrary, inflating the total A+ scored unnaturally by 10,000. Did they stop to think what will happen to GPA 5 holders now? What does that signal to us about how the decision makers think of the education system? Were the schools and teachers consulted before enforcing it? So far I haven't found any answer to these questions.

And what about the system?
One thing the board has forgotten in my opinion and that is, it is not good enough to just pass more and more students. They have to get an admission in a decent college, or else it is back to square one for these poor students. While the number of students in the country are increasing (although the total number of examinees are reduced by 50 thousand, wonder why?) there have not been significant increase in the number of good colleges to accept these students. I think many of the students who have done well (who have GPA of just less than 5) will find that even though they are not really far behind from the GPA 5 holders, there is not much value to their merit. As we know, they will still have to fight for a more competitive college admission test now. So in one way, this has not really been a boon for them, and we will soon find that many of them are left stranded not being able to join the colleges of their choice. Not to mention this increase the discrimination between the previous batch of SSC who have not enjoyed this privilege and this batch who are immensely lucky I would say.

While the board and the ministry would take a large pat in their back and be really happy about producing the best result yet, they may totally overlook the hole that they have dug themselves in. So they have given a grace marks to boost the GPA 5 percentage, will they keep on doing it the next year as well? What will happen if the new government next year decides not to do the same and the number of passes and GPA 5 holders are reduced? What will they answer to the parents? The way I see it, the bureaucracy will have no choice but to keep pumping the education system, or else they will be seen as failures. And we will keep on seeing more and more fantastic(!) results. Unfortunately that will endanger the deserving students rather than to help them provide for their future, while our board members will pat each others shoulders and celebrating their victory.

Dear readers, I am not trying to discourage the students. I am not an expert on education. I am simply someone who has some questions in his mind. This is why I say that this is a debate. With my simple bit of understanding, I can see the pros and cons. There are both good and bad sides to the question of education. My question will hopefully act as a catalyst for more serious conversation amongst the concerned parents and students. I hope that this debate or discussion will continue and so you can email me and let me know what is your opinion regarding this issue. Hopefully we can identify the problem and come to a solution together.

By Tanvir Hafiz

Big, Bad Days

I found myself scratching my head one night in February, thinking back on what had happened during the course of the last twenty-four hours. I had found out my Visa application was rejected, that half the sums in one of my A level math papers went wrong, I had a fight with the family over the (ishtufid) television, my grandmother tried to off herself with rat poison(again, this time because of some problems with the cookware), my bilirubin count increased from 10 to 23(meaning it was hospital time), and that I had forgotten a good friend's birthday in the process. However, I felt completely immune to the depressing effects of such events because since the age of ten I was quite used to being followed by a tall black chap in a black hood holding a scythe the size of lamp post.

No matter how many times you've won the lottery, there are days that you'd wish that you just didn't get out of bed. For some of us, this might mean waking up to a pc without internet, while to others it might mean losing a few limbs. It is almost like an inbuilt tolerance, like the threshold of pain: everybody has different levels. And, just like pain, every one of us react differently to it. Some of us might just shrug it off because bad things keep happening, while others who are not quite used to these misfortunes might try to follow in the footsteps of my grandmother.

Everybody feels like they are marked with a black spot. A person who has every kind of success imaginable will eventually cook up something that they don't have, and whine, rant and pout about it till the cows come home. This behavior(however annoying we find it) is still part of human nature. If there was heaven on earth, we'd be in hell: The boredom would be murder(no action games in heaven my friends, its just mario).

It is only natural that we shall be successful in some endeavors, while we'll fall flat on our face while attempting others. It is absolutely pointless moping over anything, because moping hardly every solves anything after you hit 12 years of age(people just don't give you the old 'aww look a kid' type of attention anymore). So how do we go about playing poker with fate while he has all the cards and all the money? Well, we don't. But you CAN do something to make that last hand bankruptcy look a little nicer.

Everybody has different methods to deal with depression. For myself, I watch cartoons, play games, and busy myself with things that can't go wrong(food). But this method is totally personal. I have asked around and the method of tackling seems to vary from person to person. One individual had this to say: I cry, read books, and talk to somebody who has no idea about what's going on in my life. That way, he can't keep trying to talk about the depressing bits'.

Another person commented: I don't deal with depression. If its bad luck, I attribute it to bad luck. However if I AM sad about something, I go beat up my little brother. That always cheers me up.

A third, more methodical individual had this to say: Dancing helps. A good workout also does the trick. Workout releases endorphins, which make you happy.

While beating up your little brother is borderline child abuse (unless its consented), it might just do the trick. Its certainly more strenuous then the standard solutions employed by individuals to deal with post-bad-day trauma. A long wimpy stroll in the park, a sturdy punch bag, or some quality time with friends: anything that helps cheer you up is worth a shot. Ice cream, Chocolates, Chaaps from Mushtakim with nan ruti and salad, any means necessary is the mission parameter. It is worth forgetting your Atkins regime for one day if it makes you smile.

The important thing about bad luck and bad days is to keep a clear head through it all. Bad temper and violence will only complicate matter, whereas drinking and drugs will only postpone the depression. Do what you must, but don't harm yourself in the process. We only have one shot at this life, and one crappy little body to do go through it with. But hey, if none of the above works, consider not getting out of bed at all.

Naveed C



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