Pandemic further pushes already 14-month long academic sessionSchool board exams and MBBS entrance tests uncertain.
The government in February extended the ongoing academic session by two months till June, making it a 14-month long session.
Normally, the academic session concludes in April. The decision to extend the session was taken to make up for the school time lost to the months-long Covid-19 lockdown last year.
Still, catching up with the courses was not possible. So the government reduced the course load for students by 30 percent.
As per the decision, the Secondary Education Examination was to be held from May 27 and grade 12 board examinations from June 6. However, the National Examinations Board on Monday decided to postpone the two national level tests until further notice.
Similarly, except for some city-centric private schools, a majority of the schools across the nation haven’t held the final examinations for other grades as well as the most part of the country is under prohibitory orders following a spike in the infections in the second wave of the coronavirus. The government which decided to postpone the tests is not sure when they would be conducted.
“It’s hard to say when those tests would be conducted,” Keshab Dahal, spokesperson at the Centre of Education and Human Resource Development, told the Post. After deciding to postpone the tests until further notice, the examination board said the new dates will be announced at an appropriate time. Janga Bahadur Aryal, spokesperson at the examination board, said as per the decision of the Cabinet, their priority is on conducting the examinations in person.
The examination board has already readied the question papers for the Secondary Education Examination for in-person tests. After an assessment that the schools inflated the obtained marks in the SEE last year when they were allowed to give marks to the students based on internal evaluation, the Cabinet in January had decided that in-person tests would be conducted this year. As many as 517,000 students have registered for the examination this year. Around 7 million students study upto grade 10 while around a million study in grade 11 and 12.
The continuous spike in the coronavirus cases and extension of the prohibitory orders show conducting in-person tests is not possible anytime soon increasing concerns among the students and the guardians that the already lengthy academic session would be postponed further. On Tuesday, the chief district officers of the three districts in the Kathmandu Valley have decided to extend the prohibitory orders till May 27. Nepal on Tuesday reported 9,317 new cases, the highest single day spike, in 24 hours and 225 deaths.
“The uncertainty about the test has worried me,” Samyak Gautam, an SEE examinee from Padmodaya School, Putalisadak told the Post. “The government should give an alternative if in-person tests are not possible.”
Educational experts say the present uncertainty of the academic year is the result of ill preparation on the part of the government. They say it paid no attention towards preparing alternative plans for timely conclusion of the academic year. “The government failed to learn from last year’s crisis,” Dhananjaya Sharma, a former principal of Gyanodaya School, Bafal, told the Post. “It could have prepared an alternative plan to wrap up the academic session on time.”
He said the government should have invested in preparing infrastructure for virtual platforms and separate plans for different parts of the country based on the severity of the infection.
Guardians say the delay in concluding the school session affects the entire academic calendar up to the university level. Last year, the grade 12 tests that are normally held in May were pushed to November and the results were published only in January this year. This led the Tribhuvan University’s Institute of Medicine to push the entrance tests for the MBBS that are conducted in November, to May. The prohibitory orders have again led to its postponement until further notice. “It seems those preparing for the MBBS entrance will lose a year,” Deependra Kumar Neupane, father of a daughter who wants to pursue an MBBS degree, told the Post. “The policy makers should be aware that one year loss costs hugely in the career of a student.”