KATHMANDU, March 27
A recent study in India has revealed that more than 50 percent students of grade four were unable to understand a lot of contents of grade two.
Such a study is yet to be conducted here in Nepal, but a similar scenario has failed to boost the confidence of students to get through the SLC exams, which most students still perceive as the “Iron Gate” of life, experts say.
Though lesser anomalies have been witnessed during the ongoing SLC examinations as compared to the previous ones, the exams have still been marred by numerous cases of cheating and frauds.
Eight sensitive districts of the Tarai could not improve this year too as most of the expelled students and invigilators were from districts such as Parsa, Bara, Rautahat, Sarlahi, Mahattari, Dhanusha, Siraha and Saptari.
More than 200 students and invigilators were expelled until Thursday, the second last day of this year´s SLC exams.
The situation had gone out of control when a mob of students wanted to openly cheat in Science exam on Monday. Something new out of the SLC saga this year is that the Office of the Controller of Examinations (OCE) has declared that no re-exams would be conducted for the students in those centers where locals, guardians, teachers or the students themselves disrupt the exams for any wrong reason.
Despite its earlier claims to make the exams fair, the government has fails at the end of the day, which is a failure of its policy, says Educationist Kedar Bhakta Mathema.
To conduct fair exams, the easiest and the most reliable way is to prepare creative questions for which the students has to be creative instead of heavily relying on textbooks or guess papers.
Controller of the Examinations Bishnu Bahadur Dware agrees.
He believes that students´ unpreparedness for the exam is the only psychological cause for the students´ attempt to resort to unfair practices.
“Those who are unprepared for the exams fret about the so-called Iron Gate. As a matter of fact, however, the SLC exams are like any other exams at the school level,” adds Dware, who has initially served as the District Education Officer in several districts.
But the experts have reservations over the general mindset of the authorities concerned to hold students primarily responsible for most of the anomalies surrounding the examinations.
By blaming the students the state is trying to shrug off its responsibility, and even fudging the issue since teachers are often caught not performing their duties efficiently, they argue. They also see the problem from a sociological perspective:
“The students are under immense pressure as they are led to believe that they will be stigmatized if they fail or do not pass the exams with flying colors – thanks to their parents, kin and teachers,” says Mathema.
Integrating the +2 level system at schools will not only help meet the educational standard set in most of the countries that take board exams at the +2 level, but will also help reduce social pressure on students, says Director General of the Department of Education (DoE) Lav Dev Awasthi.
Back in 2004/05 a team of experts had recommended the government to integrate the +2 level, but it has not been implemented due to various odd reasons.
The SSRP tends to revamp the school structure from grades 1 to 12. After the implementation of SSRP, grades 1 to 5 would be placed under the primary level, grades 6 to 8 under the lower secondary and grades 9 to 12 under the secondary level. Similarly, only regional level exams would be taken at grade 10.
But the proposed amendment to the Education Act that seeks to introduce the +2 level in schools is pending in parliament while the DoE is yet to set up the appropriate infrastructure for the grade promotion.
After the integration, the +2 colleges have to start the classes from primary level to ensure complete school education.
For this, a series of changes in the school structure, including better fund flow, managerial practices, and inclusion of the marginalized groups are a must.
“If the skilled persons are not attracted to teaching profession soon, the provision of new board exam at the +2 level will be even more disastrous,” warns Mathema, who is a former vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University.
It is high time the government pull up its socks to integrate the +2 level in school education system so that the rural students get an affordable and quality education at their own place. But the failure to produce skilled subject teachers is a biggest challenge apart from the poor infrastructure.
Beginning its planned development intervention in 1950s with first education development plan, the government is currently focusing on the SSRP with an estimated cost of US$ 2.26 billion.
However, school education will still not improve — and can even suffer more — if skilled persons are not attracted to the teaching profession.