Uncertainty about exam, admission and online classes

Kathmandu - This week as lockdown continued for over month, the continued uncertainty about the SEE exams, and contradictory news about class admissions where covered in the media. Debate about the relevance of online classes and the case of injustice due to inequality for students without access to technology was raised in media frequently and acknowledged by the government as well. Coverage of international news of schools opening is some countries was also reported. It was also reported that china has been taking test of students daily for COVID to ensure safety and prevent spread of virus while easing lockdown and starting schools in different regions. National Human Rights Commission has formed human rights monitoring panel in all districts calling for assessment to ensure protection of migrant workers, and students during lockout in the country and abroad.

Abbreviations: MoEST- Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, KD-Kantipur Daily, THT-  The Himalayan Times, SEE- Secondary Education Examination , TU- Tribhuvan University, KU-Kathmandu University, NOU- Nepal Open University, MoD-Ministry of Defense

-    The government at the end of the week made official announcement calling all schools to not take admissions in new classes until further notice. Prior to the notice, private schools and some municipalities and public schools had been reported to have called for admission dates along with the announcement of results of annual exams. Prior to the official announcement, there were misreports of the announcement of admission dates published in media based on an unofficial speech by the Education Minister. MoEST representative has reported that admission was restricted in all the classes in all the schools. News had been reporting that private schools had been pressuring parents to admit students in new classes claiming that classes had started running in online medium. The ministry had instructed parents to prevent from admitting children in classes and from paying monthly fees or recognizing any online classes as official under present circumstances. The news also reported that PABSON had instructed private schools to start admission procedure in private schools. The press release by the ministry also instructed all schools to notify ‘no admission fees taken’ status to their municipality office.

-    SEE new dates uncertain due to government indecision on lockdown. Government authorities have not been able to lay out clear plan about the process of holding Grade X exams (Secondary Education Examination) which has left hundreds of thousands of SEE appearing students in confusion. A high-level suggestion committee formed under the leadership of chairman of National Examinations Board, has forwarded a three-point suggestion to the government about procedure for holding SEE.

-    Some opinion articles and letter to editor also called on the government for delay in making decision to settle uncertainty about secondary school exams and the psychological stress students are facing which could have been avoided had the government taken decision based on the special circumstances of the uncertain situation. Experts had advised to announce results based on internal performance like many countries and international boards had decided.  Special task force formed to address the issue had recommended that SEE and class 12 exams should run three weeks after the end of lockdown whenever it happens.

-    Opinion articles about the constrains of online education remained at the topic most discussed in opinion articles this week as well. The limitation of the technology throughout Nepal, and its affordability by all students even in urban area was the primary concern expressed in the opinion. The article stresses the inaction of the government to address the accessibility for all students also of higher education, as universities start classes online. The article stresses use of radio and television mediums as a rather more assessable form of alternative medium for education. The article highlighted that even after 25 years since universities has introduced technical education, no significant research has been conducted on distance education. The article concludes demanding to establish National Education Network as a long term solution to address distance education needs of the nation.  

-    Another opinion article broadly discussed about learning and education in the context on uncertain lockdown. It called on to reset our priorities and re-evaluate the efficiency of our school systems beyond face value and numeric terms like number of students, enrolment, teachers, pass percentage. The article discussed about the importance to continue mobilization of teachers by municipalities to ensure knowledge dissemination about pandemic and corona virus through other mediums of alternative learning beyond online classes like field visits and radio stations. The opinion articles suggest government intervention to ensure focus on practical life skill based learning including literacy and technology where possible instead of the curriculum completion strategy at the moment of lockdown or even after the end of the lockdown for upcoming academic year.

-    ‘Holding virtual classes: Not as easy as it looks’ stated another news sharing challenges teachers-students are facing as they navigate online learning. Some private schools had started its virtual classes for students from Class I to X  last week after a few days of basic planning and training of teachers. In some schools online classes are scheduled from Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 12:00 noon or more if needed the news reported. All subjects are being taught to seniors (Class VIII to X), while junior classes like Class I and II are being taught language, artwork and little bit of Maths and Science. Teachers who aren’t digitally literate resisted the idea of online classes but the principal stated digital literacy is the thing for the present generation and should be continued. The report was prior to the announcement by the government to halt online classes as official classes and stop admissions in all the schools.

'Education this Week' is a joint effort put to analyze the press coverage of education in Nepal’s selected print media published in Kathmandu. The main aim of this effort is to identify and explain major education issues picked up by the media and give back and foreground of the news. This, we believe, will help policy makers and other responsible people to keep abreast with ongoing concerns and discussions on and around education. EduKhabar, in collaboration with the Center for Educational Policies and Practices (CEPP) , has produced this analysis based on the news printed in Kantipur (Nepali) and The Himalayan Times (English), Dailies between April 29-May 5, 2020 (Baisakh17-23, 2077) - Editor.

Read this analysis in Nepali : परीक्षा, भर्ना र अनलाइन कक्षा : सबै अन्योलमा

Read last week’s analysis: Week of critical analysis on online learning

All analysis read by this link : Education This week