If Class X students are to be evaluated internally, there must be uniformity in the grading system across the country

As per the government's directive, the new academic session at the school level began on Tuesday even as schools were grappling with the task of evaluating their outgoing Grade X students. This is the second consecutive year that the Secondary Education Examination (SEE), taken at the end of Class X by the National Examination Board (NEB), could not be held due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some 517,000 students are preparing for SEE this year. The NEB has now asked all schools across the country to submit the students' grades, based on the evaluation of their performance throughout the year, to the respective District Education Development and Coordination Unit by July 4.The unit will then submit the evaluation sheet to the NEB by mid-July. The NEB has plans to publish the final SEE results by July-end.

Evaluating a student's performance without them having to sit for the final exam can be tricky. There are thousands of schools across the country with eligible SEE candidates, but there is no uniformity in the way the students are evaluated, raising questions about the integrity of individual schools and the reliability of the grades given. This time around, as per the procedure released by the NEB, the evaluation of the students is to be done by a five-member committee, comprising the head teacher, one senior teacher and teachers of English, Mathematics and Science.

And schools are now required to give an explanation to justify the high marks, above 80 per cent, when given in theory subjects.

Should the grades raise doubts, the NEB could send the grading sheet back to the schools for a review. This has been necessary as the schools last year had given unreasonably high marks to their students. This led to a record number of 9,019 students acquiring a full GPA of 4.0 as against just 106 students the previous year, an increase of 8,400 per cent, which is simply absurd.

No one knows when the pandemic will finally be over and life will return to normalcy. Could we be confronting a similar situation next year as well? Only time will tell. If internal evaluation of Class X students is to be the new normal, then there is need for uniformity in grading them across the country so that it is fair on everyone, and they are able to compete in higher secondary school and in college later on when they sit with students from different backgrounds.

Also, with COVID-19 outbreaks seen even in the rural areas this time, how schools there are coping to complete the curriculum is anyone's guess.

For sure, students outside the urban centres – or even many living there – can ill afford any of those expensive gadgets like a laptop to study online. There is also that problem of access to reliable internet connectivity. But do we have a choice? It is, therefore, in the interest of everyone – students, teachers and other stakeholders – to make the best use of whatever facilities there are to receive an education.

Well-prepared lessons in different subjects based on the curriculum from classes 1-10 are now aired on FM radio or broadcast on TV channels every day except Saturdays, which should be accessible to most of the students. These are hard times, but let's learn to cope with them.

Road blocked

No sooner had this year's monsoon kicked off than incidents of landslides and floods have started to create havoc in different parts of the country, especially in the rural areas, where rural roads have been built without carrying out detailed engineering designs.

A report from Bajura says the Sanphe-Martadi road section in the district has been obstructed since Monday due to mudslips at different places. Transportation service and people's movement have been affected in the section due to the landslides.

As the weathermen have predicted heavy rainfall during this monsoon, which usually lasts for up to four months, the government's preparedness must be in full swing to launch rescue and relief operations.

Early warning system along the major river basins can help save the lives of many people. As the second wave of the coronavirus has also badly affected the rural parts of the country, the government should leave no stone unturned to open the blocked highways and rural roads at the earliest. If the roads are blocked for a long period of time, the supply of essential medical goods and even vaccines will be delayed, resulting in the loss of lives of many people suffering from the coronavirus.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 16, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.