Mana Prasad Wagley
As usual, the result of the SLC examination 2066 BS has been published. A little less than last year’s
result, about 64 percent got through the test. The
number of students passing out is big; however, their management of further
education is a bigger issue. At a time when the government has not made any
investment in higher
secondary education, the big mass of about one
hundred and fifty thousand students who have passed out from the public schools alone are in a big confusion as to where they should study and how.
Most of the parents of the private school students may be able to afford for their children’s further studies, but those who had enrolled their children in public schools are helpless regarding the investment required for their wards’ education. On the one side, the cheap post-SLC education called PCL is being phased out by the Tribhuvan University, and on the other all +2 schools are privately
managed and are costly. The danger is that those who were dreaming of their
further education through PCL will have to stay home without education. The phasing out of PCL from TU has been an issue for the past 16 years; unfortunately, valid preparation to make the stated education
available to the low-income group has never been made.
The new education policy of the government
envisages the restructuring of secondary education from 2012, and completion in 2015. This indicates the terminal examination for school level will be at the end of grade 12, after 2015. The preparations in this
regard should have already been started. However, it does not seem so. By the
revision of the Education Act, the government can
immediately start the
administration of the existing SLC examination at the regional level from 2067. Similarly, the process of
upgrading capable high schools to grade 12 should have been started. Had this been the case, there would have been no hue and cry among the passers regarding where should they go and study further. Neither would they have any anxiety of the exorbitant costs in the privately managed +2 schools. Doing so, the
government could show its commitment of the liability in school level education. Considering the difficulties of the low-income group, will the government move forward with these
directions without delay?
If true democracy is to
establish itself, the rights of the children to education must be ensured. The right to education has already been accepted in the process of drafting the new constitution of Nepal. Do the MoE authorities
understand what right to education means? Should people explain this to NPC and MoF again? Otherwise, this should have got priority while allocating resources to education for the coming fiscal year. The draft
program and budget of the MoE do not seem so. Then, how can they claim the
success of School Sector
Reform (SSR) program in Nepal? The only thing the MoE authorities know is that they have to sign all treaties regarding child rights without knowing what it means. In order to receive grants and loan for education, they commit everything but in practice, they are always unsuccessful. This is the reason why Nepal’s education system is paralyzed. Unless and until the MoE officials are made competent, replacing the existing incompetent ones, we can not dream of better education for our children.
The eight-decade-old SLC examination has no
relevance in the present context. This test is neither standardized nor can it
assess the capacity of our children. The education
experts, for the past three decades, have been asking the government to review and revise the SLC examinations; the government is running the same old
mechanism that will still be running in the same way for several decades more. In this context, whatever
percentage pass the SLC
examination will carry no meaning at all. Similarly, it would carry very little meaning whether the
students achieves distinction marks or third division marks. This is the major
defect of our SLC examinations system. If we talk about its reliability, there is no trend of SLC examination results in a continuum rather it is so haphazard that the SLC results can not be trusted.
Can the MoE start designing our school education system that measures and ensures the capability of our
children? Can they be in a position that two students getting 32 and 42 in English or any other subjects have a difference in capacity? There has been no system of inter-rater reliability in
examining the answer books of the SLC examination. Then, how can they claim that the subjectivity of examiners have not made the difference? Unless these flaws are redressed, the norm-referenced test like SLC can not be trusted at all. Developing countries also use norm-referenced measurement of students but they control all intervening variables that affect the examination results. So, their results are more trustworthy than our SLC examination. Unless capacity-based criteria are identified and tests based on them, there will be no credibility of the SLC examinations.
Dr. Wagley is an educationist