Government’s indecision over exams worries thousands of grade 12 studentsOfficials say they plan to conduct the exams in such a way that the risk of transmission of Covid-19 is minimised.
Two weeks have passed since the government decided to allow all test administrators in the country to conduct their respective exams. But the National Examination Board’s indecision over the grade 12 exams has left thousands of students worried.
Even after the board proposed various modalities to the Ministry of Education to conduct the exams in mid-September, and the Cabinet on October 5 gave its nod to all commissions, universities, boards and academic institutions to conduct exams, the ministry is yet to decide.
“We are expecting the ministry to decide soon,” said Jung Bahadur Aryal, spokesperson for the board. “We are already late. Further delay would make it tough for us to conduct exams in the mountains where winter is about to set in.”
He said the board has proposed that exams be conducted in the usual in-person format, but in different phases starting from areas at lower risk of Covid-19 transmission. If that is not possible, online tests of some form can be organised.
The board, according to Aryal, has also proposed that the students be tested through an open book test, which will test the students’ creativity. Evaluating the students based on their performance in grade 11, an online test and an interview is also another option floated by the board.
“We are ready to conduct the exams in any format after the government decides,” he said. “The sooner the government decides, the easier it will be for us to prepare.”
Thousands of grade 12 students have been left anxious due to the government’s indecision over their final exams. Around 431,000 students have registered for the examinations this year.
Shreedhi Neupane, a twelfth grader at Capital College and Research Centre, Koteshwor, said she is worried that her academic year will go to waste if the exams are not conducted soon.
“I am desperately waiting for the exams. Further delay could mean that we lose an entire academic year,” she said. “I would like to see the government take a sensible decision on the examination format and conduct it within a month.”
The board normally conducts the tests in April and publishes the results by October. Aryal said his office is in favour of conducting the exams latest by the third week of November (after Chhath).
Meanwhile, officials at the Ministry of Education say they are consulting experts on how to conduct the exams. Ministry Secretary Gopinath Mainali said his office wants to choose a modality that doesn’t burden students, but also maintains the standards and credibility of the exams.
“We wanted the exams to start in the first week of November, but that doesn’t seem possible. A decision will be made at the end of next month,” he said.
Mainali said the ministry isn’t in favour of online-only tests owing to the huge volume of examinees. He said the exams will be conducted like in the past, but they will be shorter than usual.
“We fear that the credibility of the exams could be questioned if the tests are not conducted properly,” said Aryal. “It would be wrong to issue certificates the way it was done in case of the Secondary Education Examination.” The board issued certificates for SEE students based on the marks they obtained in their internal examinations.
Students, however, say the board could have equipped itself with technology to hold online tests, had it prioritised their exams. “Students won’t be able to give their best if they have to take the examinations thinking of Covid-19 all the time,” said Abhilekh Belbase, a grade 12 student at Kathmandu Model College, Bagbazaar. “Who would be responsible if someone is infected while sitting for the exams?”
Aryal said officials are assessing their options to make it easier for students to attend the test in an environment with minimum risk. He said the ministry plans to make it possible for students to sit for the exams wherever they are, without having to travel long distances.. “We will make arrangements to protect students from infection and ensure examinations are conducted properly. However, during abnormal times, everything might not be perfect,” he said.