Govt decision to conduct Grade 12 board exams physically amid pandemic triggers huge outcry among students

Published On: August 5, 2021 02:42 PM NPT By: Kunga Hyolmo

“Previously, similar gatherings were witnessed at vaccination centers and most of the people who are being admitted due to COVID-19 infection these days are among those who visited such centers.”

KATHMANDU, August 5: ‘Why are you acting as if you know nothing or you have not seen anything? If you do not listen to us (students) then who will?’  A lot of students are asking this question on their social media accounts hashtagging ‘CancelNEBExams’ and tagging the prime minister, mainstream media houses and other prominent figures of the country.

With the government decision to conduct the board examination of Grade 12 in the physical presence of students, a huge outcry has erupted in social media in recent days. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram among other social media platforms are filled with Hashtags pressurizing the government and authorities concerned to either cancel, postpone or find alternative ways to physical examinations.

Earlier, the government decided to lift the prohibitory orders enforced to stem the further spread of COVID-19 after witnessing a sharp decline in the number of new and active cases of COVID-19. Following the decision, the government also gave a green signal to conduct examinations in the physical presence of students. However, Nepal – already largely hit by the Delta Variant – is again witnessing a surge in the number of daily new cases; hospitals are chock-full with COVID-19 patients and experts are warning of a possible third wave of COVID-19.

As a large number of teenagers and youths have been left unvaccinated against COVID-19, the government’s decision and preparations to conduct examinations in the physical presence of students has raised a huge health safety concern among students and health experts.

Experts say that Nepal needs to shift from traditional ways of conducting examinations to scientific ways. “I have always been opposed to the belief that a student must participate in examinations for 3 to 4 hours physically in a room,” said Dr Bidya Nath Koirala, an educationist, adding that there are many other alternatives.

“The very first alternative could be conducting a standardized test like that of IELTS and TOFEL. The test can include subjective, major subjective and integrated questions. Likewise, assigning project work could be a second option. Research-based examinations can be third or the teachers and colleges can also self-evaluate their examinations,” said Dr Koirala.

“Conducting physical examinations amid the pandemic poses a huge threat to the health safety of students as well. I also sat with officials at COVID-19 Crisis Management Committee (CCMC) and advised them to look for an alternative to physical examinations but still here we are,” Dr Koirala added.

“It has been an inevitable fact that the gathering of a large number of people spreads COVID-19 and the best method to prevent it is social distancing,” said Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, a virologist at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital at Teku. “Previously, similar gatherings were witnessed at vaccination centers and most of the people who are being admitted due to COVID-19 infection these days are among those who visited such centers,” Dr Pun added.

Similarly, people testing positive for COVID-19 and being hospitalized are among those who have not been vaccinated or have not contracted COVID-19 yet, according to Dr Pun. “Due to which, there is high risk of COVID-19 transmission among students and teenagers who have not received any shots of vaccine yet.”

Experts have been warning that kids and teenagers will be at high risk of COVID-19 in the coming days, as the COVID-19 vaccines are yet to be developed and be available for them. Officials at the health ministry have maintained that the third wave of COVID-19 has begun in Nepal. 

Some reports of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that the COVID-19 vaccines are less effective against the Delta variant of COVID-19 and Nepal has already been largely hit by the Delta variant.

On Wednesday, Nepal recorded the highest single-day spike of 4,107 new cases of COVID-19 after the government relaxed the prohibitory orders a few weeks ago. There are currently 30,270 people in home isolation, 3,194 in institutional isolation, 714 in ICU’s and 156 on ventilators.

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