EDITORIAL: Now, hit the books

Despite the many hurdles, the National Examination Board must not renege on its resolve to hold the SEE

The government’s decision to hold the Secondary Education Examination (SEE), held at the end of class 10, from mid-May should put to rest any doubts about whether or not students will have to sit for the exams this year. The National Examination Board (NEB) has already asked all schools to register the names of those students who will be sitting for the exams. Of course, the scheduled exams are many months away, and no one knows if COVID-19, which has yet to be brought under control, will play spoilsport.

Still this should help the students to be mentally prepared for the exams, which were cancelled in June last year due to the coronavirus scare. And schools could plan their academic calendar for the remaining period in such a way that the course is completed way before the exams begin in mid-May.

This could mean running extra classes. But this is easier said than done.

It’s been more than nine months since students have not been present in person in schools. And although classes have been held virtually since the past few months, their effectiveness and outreach are being questioned. Online classes require expensive gadgets like laptops, computers and mobiles, with reliable power supply and internet connections.

However, when these are a luxury even in urban homes, how students are learning in a rural setting is anyone’s guess. It is, thus, likely that online classes are limited to the urban areas. The disparity seen in learning opportunities definitely puts the government in a dilemma.

On the one hand, it cannot afford to risk losing a whole academic year, while on the other it does not know how to provide a level playing field for all students, regardless of where they live and what their economic status is.

Worse still, by not holding the SEE, it does not want a repeat of the irregularities seen in the internal evaluation of the class 10 students by the schools themselves, which led to manipulation of the grades, especially by the private schools. As a result, 9,019 SEE students graduated with a GPA of 4.0, while only 106 students had achieve the highest score last year and 74 students the previous year.

There are many challenges to overcome in holding the SEE exams. Apart from the corona pandemic, now with its new deadly variant also making its scene in Nepal, political unrest has been unleashed in the country following the dissolution of the parliament.

Should the mid-term poll take place, it will be held on April 30 and May 10, just before SEE begins. Political disturbances till the time of the elections are likely to shut schools and colleges than open them, if the past is any guide. Despite the many hurdles, the NEB must not renege on its resolve to hold the SEE. Many colleges are already holding plus 2 level and other exams by maintaining physical distancing. Also, Nepal is not alone in holding the board exams of different levels. There is plenty we could learn from our neighbours, trapped in similar situations. The year gone by has been a tumultuous year for us from every aspect, but, hopefully, the New Year 2021 will be a better one, and students can return to their schools for regular studies.

ADB assistance

The Ministry of Finance on Wednesday signed a loan agreement worth Rs 18.25 billion with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to modernise the country’s electricity transmission lines and substations.

The main objective of the deal is to improve the power transmission capacity and distribution system under the Electric Grid Modernisation Project.

The ministry has said that the energy thus saved from the power modernisation project could help minimise energy loss due to power leakage, and the additional energy added to the grid from leakage control could be exported to neighbouring countries.

Currently, the energy loss due to the leakage stands at around 15 per cent, which is the lowest in 33 years.

Before the appointment of Kul Man Ghising as the managing director of the state-owned NEA four years ago, the energy leakage in the system was as high as 26 per cent. The NEA managed to earn Rs 7 billion in 2019 in its account by reducing the energy loss by a whopping 10 per cent. As per the plan, the ADB loan will be utilised to upgrade a total of 237 km of 132 kV transmission lines and 40 grid substations across the country. A major section of the transmission lines in the Kathmandu Valley will also go underground.