The results of the SEE reveal the impact of a centralized education system once again.
Local units, according to federal officials, lack the capacity to control school education as required by the constitution, although experts maintain that this must first be tested.
When the Secondary Education Exam results were released on Saturday, some people were surprised to learn that schools had sent their students’ grades at their discretion, and that the National Examinations Board had been reduced to a body whose sole purpose is to rubber stamp and publish the results sent by schools.
Last year, the same concerns were highlighted. However, one critical question remains unanswered in this process: whether Nepal has been able to improve its education system in light of the new circumstances.
According to experts, local governments should be given the ability to oversee schools, as stipulated by the constitution, in order to affect change in school instruction. Local governments have the ability to manage school operations, design the curriculum, and conduct examinations, according to the constitution.
Secondary school education is still centralized more than five years after the constitution was promulgated. The example of the Secondary Education Examination is just one of many.
Many argue that the entire concept of the Secondary Schooling Exam, a new name for the former School Leaving Certificate, which is held for Grade 10 pupils, is faulty, because education up to Grade 12 is deemed secondary.
Until 2015, 10th graders took the Office of the Controller of Examinations’ School Leaving Certificate tests, which were held across the country. It was dubbed the “iron gate” as well. It used to be considered the end of school education, but that changed in 2016 when the Education Act was amended to include grades 11 and 12 as part of secondary education. Now, grade 12 is considered the end of school education.
However, experts claim that the effects of the School Leaving Certificate exam can still be seen today.
“As a result, there has been an unhealthy competition among schools. They are inflating grades needlessly, which does not benefit students in the long run,” said Susan Acharya, an education professor at Tribhuvan University.
“Neither the Nepalese bureaucracy nor the political leadership are engaged in school reform. The fact that the authority has not yet been devolved to the municipal level demonstrates a lack of attention to education reforms.”
Local governments have authority under Schedule 8 of the constitution to regulate school education and take required measures to control school-level education within their domains. They have complete autonomy in hiring teachers, administering assessments, and even developing curricula based on the Curriculum Development Centre’s national framework.
The federal government agreed to let the respective schools report the marks of their pupils to the National Examinations Board after the pandemic hit the country last year and the Secondary Education Examination was called off a day before it was meant to commence in March.
In 2020 and 2021, the number of students with a 4.0 GPA increased compared to previous years. Last year, 1.9 percent of total examinees achieved a 4.0 GPA, while this year, 1.7 percent scored a 4.0 GPA. In contrast, 0.02 percent of students who took the countrywide exam in 2019 received a 4.0 GPA.
There are suspicions that schools, especially private ones, submitted inflated grades to the National Examinations Board, which has been relegated to delivering students’ mark sheets rather than conducting examinations for the past two years.
The National Examinations Board, according to experts, is to fault for establishing an atmosphere in which institutions can send inflated grades without conducting thorough student assessments.
The federal government has been hesitant to enforce constitutional provisions that delegate authority for school management to local governments.
Likewise, repeated directives from legislative committees have gone unheeded.
Last year, and again this year, the Parliamentary Committee on Education requested that the government relinquish responsibility to local governments to administer Grade 10 final exams.
However, the federal government claims that the Education Act of 1971 only enables regional bodies, not local governments, to administer tests. The Secondary Education Examination will be held at the regional level, according to the eighth amendment to the Act passed in 2016.
Following the adoption of the new constitution, provinces have taken the role of regions.
According to education experts, the authorities are relying on a law from the pre-1990 Panchayat era. According to them, a Federal Education Act is required for the constitutional provisions to be implemented. The Education Ministry, on the other hand, has yet to complete its draft.
“The education act bill hasn’t been drafted since it would transfer federal jurisdiction to the provincial and municipal levels,” said Dhananjaya Sharma, a former principal at Gyanodaya School in Bafal. “There is a nefarious motive behind the delay.”
Sharma believes that Nepalese education needs to be overhauled, from management to the learning environment to the evaluation method.
While federal administrators and politicians claim that local governments are unqualified to oversee school education, Sharma believes that local governments should be given the duty so that their competence can be assessed.
Sharma also criticizes the current letter grading system, claiming that pupils are given grades based on their GPA and letter grades.
At the moment, students’ marks in three-hour tests are translated into grades.
“Giving students grades should be based on their overall achievement throughout the course of the year,” Sharma said. “You can’t use the grading system if the basis for assessing students’ total performance throughout the year is a three-hour test.”
In 2016, the government implemented the letter grading system, claiming that pupils’ performance had deteriorated over time and that they were receiving “fewer” grades.
However, experts argue that just changing the grading system without also trying to improve the quality of school education will not result in the intended transformation.
Basudev Kafle, a professor at Tribhuvan University’s Department (TU) of Humanities and Social Sciences, said it’s surprising that the examinations board is happy to issue certificates based on marks sent by individual schools rather than following the constitution’s authority to hold local governments accountable.
“The federal government must bring the Federal Education Act into effect immediately and delegate authority to municipal and provincial governments to regulate school education,” he said.
Source- The Kathmandu Post