Bipan Kunwar, a ninth grader at Aadarsha Secondary School in Sano Thimi, is worried that his school might promote him to Grade X even though he is not prepared for it.

A total of 40 students, including Bipan, attended classes for only three months due to the nationwide lockdown imposed by the government to subdue the first wave of the COVID-19 last year. This year too, regular teaching-learning activities have stopped due to the second wave of the virus.

In a bid to give more time to students in school, the government had extended the academic year by two months, but to no avail as the government had to close the schools before conducting final exams.

Usually, the school academic year in Nepal begins from April, but the government had, a few months ago, decided to begin the academic year only after mid-June, reducing the academic year to 10 months.

The government, after extending the current academic year by two months, had also rationalised the syllabus for school education. But with the COVID infection raging across the country, it is very unlikely that the government will extend the current academic year further. This has created panic situation for students who have been deprived of studies in the last one year.

The students fear that they might not be able to do well in academics if they are promoted to higher grades in the current situation.

Grade X examinations, also known as SEE, scheduled to begin from June have also been postponed indefinitely.

The government is yet to make any decision on conducting SEE.

In a bid to start the new academic year from the date fixed earlier, Kathmandu Metropolitan City asked the schools under its jurisdiction to evaluate students through alternative methods. It had asked schools to either conduct online examinations or evaluate them on the basis of previous exams and classroom performance.

Ram Prasad Subedi, head of the Education Committee of KMC, said that it was in the best interest of students to be evaluated as they stare at a spectrum of the unknown.

"We need to provide certain relief to students as they are now living with uncertainty about their future." He further said that the schools can now adopt various evaluation systems to provide final grades of students.

Private and Boarding Schools' Organisation-Nepal Chair Tikaram Puri said that KMC's decision had made it easier for schools across the country to address the ongoing confusion. "We welcome the KMC's decision and hope all the local governments across the country will introduce a similar rule to put an end to students' troubles."

However, the decision has not gone down well with some educationists. They think giving just three months for studies in an academic year won't be enough for students to be promoted to the next higher class.

Educationist Shyam Shrestha said, "Three months is too less for students to complete a syllabus of one academic year.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 17, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.