The National Examination Board, a federal board responsible for holding examinations of grades X and XII, has decided to conduct the examination of Grade X, also known as Secondary Education Examination, through alternative measures this year.

Earlier, the NEB had postponed the SEE exams indefinitely citing the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.

If the exam is held on a prescribed date, it has to end by the end of June. Last year too, the government had conducted the SEE in the postponed date by allowing concerned schools to provide marks to their students on the basis of internal evaluation as the environment was not conducive for conducting physical exams.

Chandra Mani Poudel, NEB's chairperson said, "In line with the measures to contain COVID, it's not appropriate to conduct examinations with the physical presence of children in the exam hall." He further said, "In line with the safety protocols, we have asked the Ministry of Education to take its final decision and allow us to conduct exams through alternative methods.

According to Poudel, the NEB has already started preparation to conduct the examination and complete it by mid-July. Talking to student leaders a few days ago, Education Minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha had said there was very low or no possibility of conducting the examination of Grade X in their physical presence.

A meeting of the Board has decided to conduct SEE through alternative assessment method. Earlier, the board had formed a taskforce under the Chairmanship of Director General of the Education and Human Resource Development Centre Baikuntha Prasad Aryal to recommend ways for conducting examinations during the current pandemic. Aryal had submitted a report to the board last Thursday.

"The report suggested that conducting examinations by gathering hundreds of students in a school could be a very bad idea as it may trigger the pandemic amongst school children," said Poudel. "We are not willing to put children's lives at risks," he added.

Educationists and other stakeholders have been saying that the authorities should find ways to conduct physical examinations. Last year, the decision to publish SEE result had drawn flak after the authorities allowed schools to provide marks to the students on their own terms. As a result, the number of students scoring a perfect 4.0 GPA had increased by over three times compared to the previous year.

Later, the board had conducted the examination of Grade XII by asking students to join the physical examination for 40 per cent marks and the time was reduced to one-and-a-half hours unlike the original three hours' examination format.

The extended academic year is supposed to begin from mid-July after grade X students join Grade XI.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 31, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.