More than six lakh students are appearing in this year’s School Leaving Certificate examination being held from 31st March to 8th April. School Leaving Certificate (SLC) is popularly referred to as the ‘iron gate’. It has been eleven years since I passed SLC, and I cannot still figure out why it is called so. Long coaching hours, tedious classes and tiresome walk to the school still haunt me when I think about it.

SLC must have been given much importance being the entrance for higher education or intermediate level, especially 10+2. There were a handful of people in our village who had passed SLC at that time. It was a matter of pride for the family, society, and of course the school. We faced pressure as soon as we passed class eight because the exams covered the combined course content of class 9 and 10 until our 2061 batch.

As our school had nil pass percentage the year before, teachers and school had huge expectations from our batch. I had the responsibility not only to ‘pass’ the exams but also in ‘first division’. Many of my male friends had no choice but to pass the exam or go in the search of job to India or the Gulf. However, for the girls, the story was different; they would get married sooner or later.

The result was shocking all over the country with a record breaking low pass percentage of only 32 per cent.  Our school was not the exception. Out of 70 students in our school only five of us passed the exam. Many dreams were shattered, lots of hearts were broken and beautiful and bright futures were demolished.

SLC has never been an ordinary examination; it has been making headlines for a long time after it was first introduced in 1990 BS. Why did we not tell students that this is not an ‘iron gate’ and there are more obstacles in higher-level studies and in life ahead? The buck stops at our obsolete education system, our society and us.

Education should not be described narrowly as a college education only. Learning of any facts, skills and ideas either formally or informally is the process of being educated.

The technologies we are enjoying today are the result of years of hard work, innovation and creativity; Facebook, Apple’s products being the recent examples. Students should be encouraged to take technical/vocational trainings and studies. I think the basic education system needs to be transformed to revolutionize our overall economy.