COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). The first outbreak was reported in December 2019. It has now affected more than 4.8 million people worldwide and the cases are increasing in Nepal, almost 400 cases have already been detected. The cases are increasing and we know it, yet the Ministry of Education is adamant about not cancelling the SEE. The education minister has been saying that the exams will be held two or three weeks after the lockdown. SEE/ SLC is a board exam that has been held since 1990 B.S. But is it necessary for all students to take this exam to complete grade 10 and to graduate to higher secondary or intermediate level education (12th grade)?
First of all, let us look at health and wellbeing. Students have been taught in school that health comes before wealth. If you have good health, you can go to school, you can play sports and you can sit for exams. But here is the irony: The government is doing exactly the opposite of what we have been learning since our childhood. The government believes that conducting an exam during COVID-19 in Nepal is a professional solution.
There is a real possibility that the students of our age are already being infected with coronavirus. And this is a big threat to other non-infected students. Second, the students who come from remote parts to exam centers have to pay for rents and transport, and it is expensive for them. Those people aren’t very rich and have to go through financial hardships and yet the government failed to think about this fact. The government notified us about SEE being postponed in less than 24 hours of the start of the first exam. How will they justify this to the 4.8 lakhs students who were preparing for SEE?
Proposals about cancelling SEE and giving children internal marks were made by educationists, experts and professional bodies, but somehow the ideas are being met with resistance. I don’t see a reason the proposals were declined and what valid points the education minister has for the decision. Does the government really think that students will recall everything they had been studying in a short time to prepare again? Further, not every student has computers or digital applications from which they can take the exam. Nepal definitely does not have good technology to guarantee the security of online exams. The money that has needs to be spent to conduct SEE can now be used for coronavirus relief funds. The government could invest in this crisis rather than worrying about exams.
Third, SEE has its negative sides. Children need to be competitive to apply their learnings in real life than put theoretical knowledge on paper. How will the government ensure that the students will be ready to take SEE when there are an increasing number of infected people out there who could possibly transfer the virus to them? Even if they maintain a distance in the examination halls, what is the guarantee that they won’t get the virus? The virus as we know is transmitted through droplets of an infected person from coughing or sneezing and touching contaminated surfaces. Therefore, as the numbers are increasing, rather than SEE, the government should focus on the health of young students. Even with so many students raising their voice and giving their opinion, the government appears unwilling to listen to us. An antidote to corona may not be found until years, and thus the infected people might or might not recover and Nepal has already had two deaths. We cannot have more people dying due to the virus.
I, as a tenth grade student, humbly request the government to cancel SEE for the betterment of the students and as well as the country. In the end, the number of cases are going to increase and if the government can’t focus on maintaining tight security during the lockdown, and instead focuses on conducting exams then that will show a complete lack of empathy towards students. The government has to listen to the students for once, and understand their points of view. This is the only way to keep young students like me safe, and also keep our families safe