The SEE (Secondary Education Examination), introduced in 2016, is the final examination every student must take after completing 10th grade. For the first time, the SEE exam was cancelled affecting millions of students nationwide. Although the Ministry of Education’s decision was critical, students are heartbroken and disappointed while others are adjusting and complying with the new form of grading (i.e internal assessment).
We spoke with five students from different schools in Kathmandu Valley affected by the decision. Here’s what we learned from them.
How SEE cancelation affected students
Leaving schools without SEE, without the anticipation of SEE results, or a proper farewell, has been a troubling experience for students. 41.2% of students in our survey felt the SEE 2077 cancellation was not a thoughtful decision as they were studying hard whereas 35.3% felt the government made the right decision prioritizing the health of students and faculty.
One student said: “Although I feel our government made the right decision to cancel the SEE, I was a bit sad as I was fully prepared for the exam. The cancellation was a last-minute decision and it shocked me a bit as our government was constantly assuring the exams will be held soon.”
Another student responded that the SEE was his only hope of scoring good enough grades to apply to his top choice colleges as he didn’t secure good grades in internal exams. “I was studying super hard to get good grades in the finals and now my final grades won’t turn out good as it will be based on internal exams. This seems unfair,” he said.
Internal Assessments: Fair or Unfair?
On 9th June 2020, the National Education Board, Nepal Government, and Ministry of Education made the decision to cancel SEE exams and issue certificates based on unbiased internal evaluation. Reacting to this, one student stated: ”I believe the internal evaluation will not be as fair and justified as the conventional grading system. Students and their parents may not be satisfied with the marks obtained and some might even opt to bribe teachers for better marks.”
The NEB has started drafting a working procedure to evaluate grades from internal assessments. The evaluations will first be sent to the District Education Coordination Unit then to the NEB for grade sheet preparation. Showing serious concerns regarding this new policy, one student remarked: ”Students who didn’t do well in internal exams and planning to achieve higher grades in SEE have been severely affected. Marks given on the basis of attendance review, performance evaluation, and internal exams can result in lower grades. This can take away opportunities from students who choose to study at a prestigious college or the faculty they are passionate about.”
On the contrary, some students were happy with the new grading policies. “The non-exam assessment is fair and I appreciate the Nepal government for taking a logical step during such a crisis. Online examinations would have been the best alternative but that doesn’t seem feasible for millions of students from different demographic backgrounds,” added another student who believed this change was necessary. They also expressed the SEE is overrated since the government has extended school-level education up to Grade 12.
Making the Most of Free Time
SEE cancellations have left students with more free time than they’re used to. Instead of slacking off, students are utilizing this time to learn new things and plan for college. “During this free time, I am researching colleges suitable for me and I am planning to take entrance preparation classes to improve my chances of enrollment” shared one student eagerly. Some responded that they are taking up new hobbies like cooking, guitar, foreign language, and spending time with family and friends.
Anticipating the Digital Transformation
Students believe education is on the edge of an inevitable digital transformation. One student highlighted how he never thought he would use mobile phones to study, something that pushed him towards self-paced learning. Most stated that the government should change exam policies by adopting creative assessment methods like project submission, oral examinations, competitions, and overall performance.
The decision to cancel SEE exams was extreme but it was the only and perhaps best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Students have made significant sacrifices and should be proud and motivated to do better in the future.