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SEE results 2024: Above 52 percent students ‘failed’. Who is to blame?

Observers say politicization of public school education, obsolete curriculum, pedagogy and evaluation methods are among the responsible factors.

Kathmandu: The National Examinations Board published the results of Secondary Education Examinations (SEE) conducted in April this year on Thursday. Out of 464,785 students who appeared in the SEE exam, 47.86 percent passed. A total of 242,092 students passed in the regular category and 186 secured 4 GPA.

A total of 52.14 percent of candidates who appeared in the examination obtained non-grade (NG), which is a euphemism for failed. Students obtaining NG (non-graded) in up to two subjects can take grade increment examinations to be conducted by the NEB next month. Those obtaining NG (non-graded) in more than two subjects will be able to take the examinations of those subjects only next year. 

SEE students must score at least 35 percent mark in the theoretical exams to qualify for higher studies.  Those who fail to do so will not be eligible to enroll in class 11. At the moment, more than 52 percent of NG students will not be eligible to enroll in grade 11. What does this indicate about our school education? What is failing our students?

Dinanath Sharma, former Education Minister of Nepal, said there are three main reasons behind this dismal SEE results. “There are defects on three fronts in our school education system,” said Sharma. “First is the curriculum which is not updated while the time and context has changed. We have been teaching the same curriculum designed around a decade ago.  Time has changed, people’s consciousness level and thinking pattern has changed but we still follow the same old curriculum.”  The second problem, according to him, is our pedagogy. “The teachers in schools are following the same old teaching methods they followed when they were appointed some 25 or 30 years ago. It does not mean they have become obsolete and they are not qualified. But they have not been updated and they have not been given proper training on pedagogy,” said the former minister. “The state has failed to appoint competent teachers in schools.  Students carry smartphones while many teachers even today do not know how to teach by using projectors.”  

Dinanath Sharma

The third problem, he said, is about the evaluation system we have been following. “How the students in the 60s were evaluated is the same as we evaluate our students today. This has to change.”  “These are the problems and we cannot expect to have better results unless we initiate reforms on these three fronts.   More than 50 percent of students failing in grade 10 is an extremely serious matter and we need to be really serious about addressing this issue right from today,” said Sharma.

Prem Thapa, lecturer of Buddhism in the Central Department of Buddhist Studies in Tribhuvan University, says that the real problem is politicization in public schools. “I am sure that the majority of the non-graded students are from public schools. And we have to understand why public schools are not doing well,” said Thapa.  

Prem Thapa

“Public school teachers have the tendency of being loyal to the respective parties they are affiliated with rather than being loyal to their duty of teaching.  When attempts to prevent teachers from being involved in political activities are made the political parties and the teachers associated with the political parties oppose it,” said Thapa.  “Frankly, the teachers in public schools are not so passionate about teaching, they are passionate about politics.” According to him, the second reason is that once a teacher becomes permanent, nobody can remove him from the job in public schools. “Once permanent, the teacher also thinks he does not need to innovate himself, learn more and keep updated with the changing pedagogy, curriculum and technology.”

“Unless this changes,” said Thapa, “it would be stupid to expect better results next year and years that follow.”