As schools are reopening, calls for assessment of learning outcomesStakeholders say there has to be some programme in place to ensure that students are promoted only after they learn what their curricula prescribe.
Next week, schools across the country are resuming in-person classes that were disrupted since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.
The schools had switched to virtual learning since a nationwide lockdown was imposed in March last year in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus. However, virtual learning was largely ineffective especially at public schools and schools in rural areas for lack of internet connectivity and students’ access to audio-visual devices.
Various studies have shown that only a third of the school students had access to virtual learning and that too was ineffective. A study report released by UNICEF in September last year showed that 63 percent of students neither had access to virtual learning platforms nor teacher support. In August last year, UNICEF's survey showed two-thirds of the school children did not have access to virtual learning.
As the schools across the country are set to resume in-person learning, stakeholders say it is necessary to measure the learning achievements of the students to test if they have grasped the contents as prescribed by the curricula for the respective grades. “It is known that teaching-learning hasn’t been effective for the last year and a half,” Ritu Raj Sapkota, chairperson of the National Private and Boarding Schools’ Association, Nepal, told the Post. “We need to test the learning achievement of the students to know if they have learned what their curricula have intended for them to learn.”
He said without the learning achievement test there will be questions over the competency of the students. Unlike the examinations conducted at the school or the national levels which generally test the knowledge of the examinees, the learning achievement also tests the aptitude of the students.
The stakeholders say if the students haven’t achieved what their curricula envision, there has to be some programme in place to ensure they are promoted only after they learn what their curriculum prescribes. Education experts say as the government reports prior to the pandemic suggest that the learning achievement of the students in all levels is hovering around 50 percent, there are high chances that it has plunged in lack of proper teaching-learning during the pandemic.
“There is no doubt that the learning achievement has gone down during the pandemic,” Binay Kusiyait, a professor at the Tribhuvan University, told the Post. “It is necessary that the learning achievements of the students are tested and there is remedial support to those who are weak.”
A study report by the Education Review Office released in August showed that the average learning achievement for the 10th grader was below 500. The study was done using a multi-stage sampling technique and Item Response Theory where 500 has been taken as the mean value of performance. The 500 reflects the average performance on a scale that ranges from 0 to 1,000.
Similar studies by the review office for grade three, five and eight in the past showed the learning outcomes were around 500. Since it was not possible to conduct proper examinations during the pandemic, the students of all grades have been promoted to higher grades without facing the examinations for the last two sessions, raising questions over the learning outcome, according to experts.
Government officials say they have discussed conducting a rapid assessment of learning achievement of students but no decision has been taken yet. “We agree that a learning achievement test is extremely necessary as the country is returning to a full-fledged in-person learning,” Ganesh Bhattarai, director at the Curriculum Development Centre, told the Post. “We are discussing the issue. Hopefully, we will conduct such an assessment soon.”