On Monday, June 20th, The Office of the Controller of Examinations (OCE), released this year’s School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination results. SLC is the mother of all iron gates for Nepali students. Without good scores (read: over 90% marks) you cannot get into a good college and the ghost of SLC bad marks always hounds you around even if you manage to have a stable academic life after the ripe old age of 16.
Every year, thousands of class 10 students across Nepal toil hard for SLC examination. These 15-16 year olds have been molded by the system to believe that scoring good marks in this exam will secure their future. So they work like bonded laborers-intellectual laborers.
But the sad reality is that exam like SLC or for that matter any other standardized test does not guarantee or prove anything. They are all cookie cutters and if you don’t fit in, you are deemed problematic.
SLC exam tests students on class 10 materials. Subjects range from English and Nepali to Accounting, and Calculus.Now, the questions are all the same, even if you are a student of financially challenged school struggling to pay teachers without, sufficient educational materials ;or your school is doing so well that it has its own swimming pool.
There is no consideration or room to accommodate students who attend school while working as day laborers, and they don’t care if your school was shut down for most of the year due to political or financial reasons. SLC demands that thousands of Nepali students fall into the same line or else.
Failing SLC means that students have so may doors closed for them, it is not even sad. And one you get this “SLC fail ” tag, you are marked for years. People assume you must be intellectually deficient or that you simply not trying hard.
True, there are hundreds of students who couldn’t care less. They fail and deserve what they get. But the way SLC system is set up, it pushes hard-working students with limited means to match wealthy students who can afford private tutors and fancy schools. This not fair and has to be changed.
I am not advocating pity for the poor students, but create an environment for them where they can succeed. If you want a day laborer to compete with sons and daughters of country’s elite, fine. More power to it, but make it fair. You have to ensure that the day laborer gets the same quality of education, good teachers, schools with sufficient means and an environment that nurtures the student.
If you cannot ensure that the students get to study in a standardized environment which promises quality education, regardless of background, you have not right to conduct a standardized test and then push the failing or poor performing students into life time of missed opportunities.
On a personal note
Ok I had to do this. My SLC experience was horrid. I almost failed optional Maths (the one with Calculus and all) and scored just enough to eke out first division percentage. The fight to get into a good college was humiliating. I would be asked my percentage and then the clerk would say find another school. I wanted to study science (apparently reserved for geniuses) and there was no way a good school in Kathmandu would take me. So, I went to an OK school outside the country.
I had the means to find opportunity outside Nepal, what about those who don’t have that. Why should they be doomed?