Students will be taking the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examinations from today. These exams are often referred to as the “Iron Gate” for success in them determines the fate of the future pillars of the nation. The exams are taking place at a time when daily lives are being affected by bandhs, strikes, closures and chakka jam and the like in various parts of the country. Under the circumstances, the authorities face the challenge of providing adequate security to the students and those supervising the examinations. According to the authorities, they are fully prepared, and they have set up 1,548 exam centers in different districts to cater to the needs of some 450 thousand examinees. Furthermore, they are confident that they will be able to hold the examinations in a free and fair manner without the students as well as the invigilators having to face any fear. The presence of security personnel is going to be conspicuous to ensure security for the successful holding of the examinations besides maintaining the dignity of an all important examination. It is also quite encouraging that the political parties have also expressed their commitment not to carry out bandhs and protests and the like during the duration of the examinations, so hopes are high that no hitches will come in the way for the proper conduct of the examinations.
However, it is a wonder that the students are prepared for the examinations considering that bandhs and strikes had played havoc with the academic calendar. Load shedding too must have created obstacles, yet despite the difficulties the students are taking the exams seemingly having completed their courses in time for the examinations. On the power outage hampering with the preparations of the students, there have been demands from students and other quarters to do away with load shedding at night while the exams are taking place to facilitate the students in studying. Moreover, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that is to monitor the exams should ensure that the exams are held without fear for in the previous year it was found that examinees in some districts were compelled to do so in a climate of fear. Last year, a record number of students, over 68 per cent, passed the SLC examination. This leads to speculation about how the performance of the present batch of students will be.
Here it needs to be stressed that while holding exams there should be no use of unfair means. In previous years, it has been found that the students in some places relied on chits carried or supplied to them from outside, and even used mobiles for cheating purposes. In some centres, the teachers and guardians were assisting the students to indulge in such unethical activities. This needs to be checked for it is particularly hard on the diligent honest students who have put in much effort in preparation for the exams. Also the scrapping of the list of toppers of the exams breaking the tradition sought to do away with “unhealthy” competition, particularly amongst prestigious schools. Now, as the students take the SLC examinations it is the responsibility of all concerned to cooperate in seeing to it that the large number of students doing so are able to do so in a congenial atmosphere.
Once again, the celebration of Chaite Dashain has raised the burning issue of animal and fowl sacrifice. It is not that the cruelty to animals and birds had not been raised in the past, but the greater publicity that any event generates in recent times with greater media coverage has added to the thrust. Sacrifice to appease the gods or goddesses have been here since time immemorial. It might have been the way of life for people who believed in the act to propitiate for whatever they wished for or what the achievement had been. The Gadhimai festival last year was highlighted as to the extent of the sacrifices that took place. It is after a state of mind that leads a devotee to offer animals or birds as sacrifice, but the sacrificial site can unnerve anyone.
Such ritual sacrifices are purely ancient traditions, but they have now come up for re-examination with the increased sensitivity to the right of life of all living beings. Going veggie is one way to avoid the killing of an animal or bird, but stark and revolting scene unfolds with open display when ritualistic sacrifices take place. It is high time that brutal slaughtering of animals are done away with. Let’s be more humane.