Face-to-face learning has stopped but schools continuing in-person examsGuardians say they want online exams given the growing risk of infections as safety protocols are not being followed.
Kathmandu Valley’s schools that have stopped face-to-face classes after Monday’s decision of the Cabinet are continuing their internal examinations in the physical presence of students.
The Private and Boarding Schools’ Organisation Nepal (PABSON) has given continuity to the pre-board test across the country for the students appearing in the Secondary Education Examination in two months. The umbrella body of the private schools had started the pre-board examinations on Sunday. Similarly, the private schools associated with the National Private and Boarding Schools’ Association Nepal started in-person tests for 10th graders from Thursday. SEE is scheduled to commence on May 27.
Following a sharp spike in the coronavirus cases, the Cabinet on Monday decided to close the schools in cities until May 14 and continue the teaching-learning process online. The Cabinet, however, had given permission to conduct the pre-scheduled tests by following the health protocols prescribed by the government.
“We are conducting the pre-board tests in the physical presence of the students,” PABSON Chairman Tika Ram Puri told the Post. “The schools are coordinating with the respective local governments to conduct the tests for other grades as well.” He said the tests will be conducted by following the health protocols prescribed by the government.
However, the representatives of the guardians aren’t convinced. They say as most schools from the areas with high risks of infection didn’t follow the safety protocols until the Cabinet’s decision for the closure, they are not convinced that the safety protocols will be followed while conducting the examinations. “Guardians from different parts of the country including the Kathmandu Valley are for conducting the exams virtually,” Suprabhat Bhandari, chairman of the Nepal Guardians’ Federation, told the Post. “We have found some of the schools are still physically open in the name of conducting exams.”
He said the Lalitpur Madhyamik Vidyalaya, for instance, was physically open on Wednesday as well. The National Human Rights Commission in its inspection last week had found that not a single school among 15 had fully followed the health protocols. Teachers from various schools meanwhile said it would not be possible for them to enforce social distancing owing to their poor infrastructure.
The officials at the commission say, after their inspection, they are not convinced that most of the schools will follow the safety protocols during the exams. They say no matter whether they are conducting exams or classes physically, the students are always at risk of infection when the health protocols are not followed.
“We will carry out monitoring again,” Tika Ram Pokharel, spokesperson at the National Human Rights Commission, told the Post. “If it is possible to conduct classes online why not the exams.” He said as the infection rate is spiking every day the final evaluation of the students could be done based on the internal performance of the students.
Last year, the SEE students were promoted to grade 11 based on internal evaluations as it was not possible to conduct the exams.
The infection rate is rapidly increasing with 2,365 new infections reported on Thursday alone. The guardians from different schools say they are pressuring the school administrations to conduct exams online for all grades including the pre-board exams. They allege that the schools are trying to bring the schools into full operation under the pretext of conducting various exams. They accuse the schools of misinterpreting the government's decision to allow the pre-scheduled tests saying the provision isn’t for the internal exams.
Rabindra Ojha, the chairman of the Guardians’ Association at KMC School, Buddhanagar, said they have asked the school administration to withdraw its plan to conduct in-person exams. “We cannot take the risk by sending our children to school. The school should revisit its decision,” he told the Post. “We hope the school shifts to online tests. Otherwise, our children will boycott all the examinations until the threat of the coronavirus subsides.”