What About Them?: 45% Students Failed SLC Exams

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?


2 thoughts on “What About Them?: 45% Students Failed SLC Exams

  1. Some thing I would really like (read: need) to say:
    (read: over 90% marks) Make it 80%, above 90 had been only a recent trend, previous few years.
    Setting aside the disparity of quality of education between ‘have’ and have not’ and focusing on the system of SLC examinations itself, we will see the basic flaw that exists in the pattern. Its the false promise that the examination provides the students with for their performance, and when time comes for the reward, most of them are denied, and they feel kind of lost and loose the track.
    “These 15-16 year olds have been molded by the system to believe that scoring good marks in this exam will secure their future”
    Indeed, and how naive. They say this the one, and we believe it is the only one. And majority of those who score pretty good in the exam, somehow (read with the inability of the system to counsel, guide and encourage to perform even) loose their track, and end up in crossroads, often jeopardizing their educational and academic ambitions.
    Personally I had seen the examples. My friends who once were, ( were supposed to be) brilliant students and land to the reputed institutions could not live upto the expectations and fell into the dark side of frustrations and depressions.
    The basic flaw is in labeling the tenth grade examinations as the iron-gate . Come on , for god’s sake, its not even basic high school graduate degree. Learning from my personal experiences, SLC in NO WAY shapes your future prospects. Student will find it more troubling to choose their field after completion of 12th examinations than post SLC.
    Where the grading system of comprehensive evaluation of students’ performance is almost the best method of school education, our system of one-time evaluation is utterly unscientific, impractical and discouraging by all means.
    Why not develop a system where students are encouraged to appear for any examinations with the same zeal and intensity and keep that fire alive for times to come.
    Why not make them stop running after the marks that will not eventually matter rather than the knowledge that will matter forever.
    Why not make learning fun rather than just having student rot the texts and answers.
    Why not make going to school to have a lifetime learning experience than just to pass the examinations that is just transcended for no good.

    Since, MOE is [planning to merge 11 and 12 th grade with the prevailing school system, until then, best of luck to all the aspiring students for their SLC. Just keep in mind, the marks will eventually not matter, accept it, the sooner, the better.

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