If the past is any guide, a quarter of the students are, however, unlikely to step foot in college because of the poor grades
The Secondary Education Examination (SEE) began from Sunday, which will test the ability of 475,003 students across the country in different subjects to see if they are eligible to join Class XI in college and eventually higher studies. The SEE is held at the end of class X, just like its former self, the School Leaving Certificate (SLC). But unlike the SLC, no student will be marked failed under SEE, thus allowing students to continue with their studies in grade XI, although getting to join the high school (college) of one’s choice, or any college at all, is quite another matter. The composition of the students sitting for the SEE this year is something to cheer about, in that there are more girls than boys taking the exam. However, the flip side of it is that the bulk of the girl students taking the exams are from the community schools, where getting an education is cheaper, and the learning-teaching process is also inferior to that of private schools. It is also a revelation about the persisting discrimination against the girl child in society, where the parents reserve the more expensive schools for their sons while sending their daughters to the community schools.
The National Examination Board (NEB) is hosting the SEE exams this year also, although by law it is the responsibility of the provinces. This is because it has been only about a year since the provincial governments were formed, and the provinces have yet to develop the required mechanism and structures to be in a position to conduct the exams. As per the Education Act, the local levels are responsible for conducting the examinations upto grade VIII, provinces for the SEE and NEB for the XI and XII exams in line with the federal structure. This year also, the NEB has taken the onus of preparing the question papers, fixing the exam centres and publishing the SEE results. Separate sets of question papers have been prepared for the provinces in six compulsory subjects while the questions in Sanskrit, and optional and technical subjects are uniform throughout the country.
If the past is any guide, almost a quarter of the students sitting for the SEE – most of them from the community schools – are, however, unlikely to step foot in college because of the poor grades. This is a colossal wastage of the resources that the government has put into their education as well as of the time spent by the students and teachers in school. The students, especially who leave school at grade X, must be armed with skills to back the theoretical knowledge learnt in school so that they can start working without being a burden on the family, society or country at large. Nepal’s school education system is being restructured, and it is only a matter of time before the existing plus 2, that is, two years of studies after grade X in college, is phased out and made part of the overall school education. With the changes that are now taking place, it is necessary to introduce a more scientific grading system in school – from classes 1 to 12 – which allows for the proper interpretation of the grades, especially when students are attending two types of school in Nepal.
Bridge the gap
Despite being an agricultural country, Nepal is importing even fresh vegetables, including roots, seeds and tubers, from outside. According to the Department of Customs, fresh vegetables worth Rs 14 billion were imported, mainly from India, in the first half of this fiscal. Among the vegetables, potatoes and onions made up the bulk. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the country produces around 4 million tonnes of vegetables annually while annual import of vegetables stands at around 3 million tonnes.
The huge gap between domestic production and import of vegetables clearly indicates there is potential for immense vegetable farming within the country. Given the suitable climatic condition in Nepal, the government should provide various incentives, including technical and financial support, to the farmers, especially the educated youths, to engage in vegetable farming along with the provision of market guarantee for their produce. The government should also identify some areas as special zones, where specific crops can be grown using modern technology. Mass production of vegetables and fruits will not only help reduce the production cost and ensure quality control, but also help slash consumer prices.
A version of this article appears in print on March 25, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.