As pandemic grips country, Korean language test uncertain this year as wellWith the country reeling under a second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, officials say chances of the test taking place this year are slim.
The fate of Korean language test for Nepalis aspiring to work in South Korea looks uncertain this year as well.
As the country is reeling under a second wave of Covid-19 pandemic with most parts of the country under a lockdown, officials are unsure when or if the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) will take place.
The Covid-19 pandemic had led to the postponement of last year’s test as well.
According to Indra Gautam, director at the Employment Permit System (EPS) Korea Section under the Department of Foreign Employment, no decision has been taken so far on whether the test would be happening in the immediate future.
“Earlier, there had been discussions about conducting the test some time this year. But looking at the current situation, we cannot say anything” Gautam said. “Things look uncertain for now.”
Every year, the EPS Korea Section announces the test in April-May. The test dates are then jointly decided by the section and the Korean authority.
The test for this year has not been announced yet.
The Korean language test could not be held last year as the country was in the midst of the first wave of the pandemic.
While the concerned authorities had considered adopting a computer-based test (CBT) module to conduct the test later in the year, the plan did not materialise.
The authorities eventually postponed the test for 2021.
Now, this year too, there is a high chance of the test being deferred because of Covid-19.
“There has been no communication with the Korean side concerning the test in recent weeks. As everything has remained closed here, the discussion has not moved ahead,” said Gautam. “It all depends on how the situation unfolds in the coming weeks or months.”
Gautam added that both sides were positive about conducting the language test this year.
Earlier this year, a delegation of South Korean officials visited Nepal to assess the situation for conducting the language test.
Another delegation was also expected to make a similar visit, but then the second wave of Covid-19 struck Nepal.
Every year, thousands of Nepali youths apply for the Korean language test, the first step for securing jobs in South Korea.
In 2019, a record 92,000 candidates had applied for the test.
South Korea has emerged as a popular job destination for Nepalis in recent years because the country offers better facilities and pay to migrant workers compared to other labour hosting nations like Malaysia and the Persian Gulf states.
According to government statistics, more than 65,000 Nepalis have gone to South Korea under the Employment Permit System since 2008.
Labour migration to South Korea has remained suspended since February 2020.
Several thousand candidates who cleared the language and skill tests and got selected for jobs in 2019 have been unable to take up their jobs. It remains unknown when they will be able to fly to South Korea.
“The suspension of international flights only delayed their chances of flying to South Korea,” Gautam said. “Things are unlikely to progress until the Covid-19 situation gets better.”
As for the language test taking place this year, Gautam said the prospects are very low.
Even when things were comparatively better last year, he said the test could not be held.
“The situation is far worse this time.”