SLC: Do we really need it?

2014-04-05

edusanjal

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There have been over the years a lot of comments both for and against the SLC examination. In the initial days, successful students were even presented in front of the Rana PM. A story goes that a candidate did not pass as he had failed in English. The PM reversed an academic decision when he said, “How can a Nepali be penalized for such a small fault? English is not his mother tongue. Pass him!”

Some charges levelled over the years that SLC results were neither standardized nor fair are:

1. The papers were not corrected properly. The claim was that the examiners given the paper to correct gave it in turn to Intermediate Science students taking private tuition with them. The fairness and accuracy thus varied.

2. The Education Ministry / Government gave awards or grants to schools having the best results. To make sure that the financial help was forthcoming, it was whispered by students who had gone through the process that the teachers in some schools of the rural areas encouraged copying by putting the answers on the blackboard.

3. Announcement of answers within earshot of examinees occurred near exam centres.

4. Claims are periodically made that marks of certain ‘source-force’ candidates were changed or adjusted in the central log book.

These examples given, though rampant a decade or two ago, may have decreased with the onset of computerization. However, the practice of having fake candidates to sit for the examination was not only present in the past, but is still very much prevalent. It has become more difficult to invigilate because of modern information technology. Not only can the answers be divulged into the ears of the candidate sitting for the examination, s/he can carry the notes or even the whole book in his/ her mobile phone. One simple way to offset all this would be to allow students to take books into the examination hall and set the questions in such a manner that those who are familiar with the course books, the curriculum and know where to look for the answers will pass easily.

The SLC was conceived and put into practice in the British Colonies on the basis of educational practices in the UK. The schools in India had at one time the Junior and Senior Cambridge and the Intermediate Sciences examinations. After these, one enrolled into the University. We in Nepal accepted this heritage of the British Raj in India when we started our SLC in affiliation with Patna University in 1924. Our own SLC Board was constituted in 1934.

The Higher Secondary education concept or 10 +2 was introduced in Nepal by the MoE in 1994 in Buddhanilkantha School, as many private schools balked at the idea. Presently, there are many educational institutions that are running classes for the Higher Secondary Board Examinations. Additionally a number of educational institutions in Nepal are doing examinations such as ‘O’ & ‘A’ level of different Boards, or the International Baccalaureate. These programmes, being a demand of the times, encourage initiatives rather than rote learning and are popular amongst the students.

The ‘A’ levels being again a British Innovation is gradually being replaced by the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). Even in the UK a private Board Pearsons conduct Edexcel A & S levels assessments which are recognized by a large number of universities worldwide as meeting educational standards.

Most parents in our part of the world are keen that students should go straight from 10+2 to University courses. The fear is they might stop studying or even get into drugs. The students in turn are nonchalant about their studies in campuses for classes are never certain - the teachers may not come, there may be a strike called by one of the student or teacher’s unions affiliated to one of the political parties or there may be a political bandh, making travel to the place of study almost impossible!

The educational situation in Nepal is a cause for worry. Of this year’s 4.53 lakh SLC examinees, only 55.5% passed. Is this a reflection of our education system?

Our education and even political system was influenced by the British by way of India.

In Russia, SLC is after eleven years of study. Interestingly, a couple of days ago the state government of New South Wales in Australia stated that there is no rationale for having a School Leaving Certificate after ten years of study. It is just an extra burden of cost. In America, there is no School Leaving Examination.

Each school does its teaching and conducts its exams. On the basis of assessment the students go out into the world. Getting into the universities is by competition and on the basis of merit although there too there must be pressure by way of alumni or Ivy League connections.

Bearing all these points in mind, is it not rational too that we dump the concept of SLC examination on a countrywide basis and just let it be assessment at each school where the student studies? Let the hurdle be after twelve years of study.

(Source: The Himalayantimes: Published on July 21)