Education secretary defies minister, causes college admissions system crash

REF: Education Secretary Nazrul Islam Khan allegedly defied Minister Nurul Islam Nahid and forced all colleges to use the automated students selection system, causing a crisis.

A investigation into the cause behind the three-day delay in publication of college admission results found that he disregarded a written instruction by the minister which was to include only colleges with seats above 300 into the system.

In Nahid’s absence, Khan issued the admission guidelines violating the instruction to bring all colleges under the e-system that crashed as its design was unable to cope with the large number of applicants.

Ministry officials told that if the minister’s directives were followed the number of applicants would not have been so large and the system would not have crashed.

The education secretary did not comment on the allegations.

Khan had said before that he was responsible for all the complications that resulted in the system failure.

Although the college admissions results were to be published on June 25, the technical glitch has made its fate unsure.

BUET’s IICT was tasked to process all the applications and publish the results.

The Inter-education Board Coordination Subcommittee could not publish the results even through the day on Sunday.

A meeting was held at the Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information & Statistics (BANBEIS) on May 16 to formulate the admission guidelines headed by the education secretary.

Ministry and education board officials said the findings were submitted for final approval to the education minister in a note on May 25.

Nahid said the plan would have to be phased considering those educational institutions that are weak, lagging and did not get students.

“Educational institutions with 500 seats were included in the platform (online and sms admission system) last year. This year we can implement it for institutions with minimum 300 seats.”

Ministry officials revised the proposal accordingly and presented it to the secretary for approval on May 31.

It was published on June 1 with his approval.

It said that applicants for institutions with at least 300 seats can apply online or through Teletalk sms platform. However, institutions with fewer than 300 seats can opt to be included in the platform.

A senior official at the ministry, on condition of anonymity, Khan on June 2 reissued the admission guidelines which removed the 300-seat clause.

It said applications for all educational institutions approved by the board can be filed online or through sms and highlighted the website for online applications.

As a result, all students had to apply online or through sms and coordinating applications from 1.2 million admission-seekers became the issue.

An official of the Dhaka education board said the Inter-education Board Coordination Subcommittee had proposed making the e-system compulsory for institutions with at least 500 seats and optional for those with 300 seats.

“He bypassed officials of the education board and ministry and took it upon himself to supervise all activities related to the admission process.

“He sent a2i officials along with professor Kaikobad to BUET to solved the technical issue,” added the official.

Chief of the Inter-Education Board Coordination Subcommittee Abu Bakar that a total of 1.15 million students applied for college admissions.

As multiple applications were allowed, they were faced with a total of 3.3 million applications.

He also said if only colleges with more than 500 seats were included in the process, the complications with the servers would have been manageable.

When asked why he thought all colleges were included, he said, “Saying this would not help now, let’s see what happens. The BUET’s IICT repeatedly told us when taking responsibility that they can handle it.”

He continued, “Classes would start on July 1. The education minister has given us directives. If the results are published on Sunday, the applicants would get two days for admission.”

After a programme at the Secretariat, Education Secretary Nazrul Islam Khan told journalists, “I played a role in including all colleges in the system. I am responsible for it all, write against me there is no problem.”

“We did not buy the software from a foreign company and built it in BUET. We are gaining experience. This is the first time we are doing this.”

He, however, could not say when the results might be published. “It is a technical matter, I would only be guessing. Every work is risky… I am not good with IT.”


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