| September 22, 2020

Current form of SLC exams comes to an end

KATHMANDU, June 17: The 82-year history of the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination in its current form has come to an end with the Office of Controller of Examinations (OCE) publishing the results of the SLC exams of 2016 on Thursday. The first SLC examinations in Nepal were held in 1934, under Patna University.

With the introduction of a new system, a National Examination Board will from now onwards conduct the school leaving examinations at regional level after the 12th grade. So far, the OCE has been conducting the SLC after grade 10.

Parliament has already approved the 8th amendment to the Education Board Act, which includes a provision on forming a new National Examination Board (NEB) that will carry out all work under that provision.

The government has initiated the change in the school leaving examination system from this year. The OCE has published the SLC results under a letter grading system for the first time, and no student has been categorized as failed. So far the results used to be categorized on the basis of a numbers system [with divisions and percentages]. Education experts had long been demanding the implementation of a letter grading system for the SLC.

Experts, however, are not satisfied with the way the government has introduced the new system. They said this has been done without proper preparations. A letter grading system alone cannot ensure the quality of education, educationist Mana Prasad Wagle said, adding that success in the exam results is directly linked to reform measures in the sector.

According to him, the government should have used this opportunity to overhaul some crucial aspects of the existing system, including teaching methods, approaches and teaching hours, to ensure that the quality of education will improve.

The government decided to introduce the letter grading system as per a report prepared by a study team led by former vice chancellor of Tribhuvan University Kedar Bhakta Mathema in 2004. The team submitted the report entitled “Study on Student Performance in SLC”, which suggested that the government merge the Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) with the Office of Controller of Examinations (OCE) to form a new mechanism for conducting the examinations.

Along with this, the report also recommended some measures to improve the quality of education. Mathema said that the government has ignored the major recommendations of the report and implemented only the letter grading system.

The positive side of the letter grading system is that it will reduce the trendency of suicides as the new system doesn't categorize any student as failed, said Mathema. In the past, cases of students committing suicide used to  be widely reported immediately after the SLC results came out. SLC had put huge pressure on students as they are judged by their families and by society at large according to the marks they obtain, he said. Failing an exam is not the  end of all opportunities, he added. Frustration, depression and suicides were directly linked with the SLC results as many students used to consider it a matter of life and death.

Mathema also pointed out that Nepali society has the wrong approach to children's education. He said parents in general pay more attention to the secondary level whereas priority should be given to elementary schooling, which is the base of education.