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Delusions And Dilemmas – What After SLC?

June 16, 2014 , by Pragya Thapaliya, Leave your thoughts
Delusions And Dilemmas – What After SLC? » My Dreams Mag

 
Each year when the month of Asadh drops by, SLC results becomes a hot topic for every chiya guff. There are TV channels doing special discussions with educational pundits, relatives asking the students whether they are going to pass with flying colours and colleges taking part in various expos and exhibitions to draw in students. SLC casts a spell on us, fills us with the dread whether we are going to live up to the bars that’s been set for us. We are supposed to slave like a beast of burden almost twelve hours a day. The society portrays a woolgathering, dreamy atmosphere that after you are done with your SLC, you are in for a better future, and you can have fun in college and all the tensions go backpacking. But then you realize that you have been fed false lies, because after SLC is when the real dilemma starts. There are subjects and streams to choose, parents to please, relatives who wish us to stand up to their expectations, and a quandary to solve – whether to listen to the head or the heart.

 

School Leaving Certificate has been very frequently termed as ‘The Iron Gate’, making it sound no less than a hurdle in Dungeons and Dragons. The students who pass SLC are around the age of sixteen which is around a coming off age period. Each one needs a proper guidance and counseling on which topic to study and which path to choose. The wide array of colleges offering various subjects has offered more choices but also has made it seem a confusing and even more horrendous task. Till a few years back, Nepal used to follow the three tier education system. The first tier of ten year long schooling ended with SLC exam, after which, there used to be two years of Intermediate level, two years of Bachelors in the second tier and in the end, a two year long course in Masters offered by university. Now the Intermediate level has been removed from the higher education stream of Nepal. And the curriculum that have gained the highest popularity are +2, IB and A levels.

 

Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) was established in 1989 AD under the Higher Secondary Education Act. This board is responsible for the 10+2 system and its management in the nation. A student can opt to choose science, management or humanities in this curriculum. Whereas Advanced Levels falls under General Certificate of Education (GCE) which is a course offered by Cambridge International Examination board which provides options of 70 different subjects to choose from. Students require choosing combinations of at least four subjects inclusive of a compulsory paper GP in English. International Baccalaureate on the other hand is offered under the wing of International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). The students are required to choose six subjects and one can choose subjects from various groups.

 

With diverse alternatives and a lot to pick from, students have confusions regarding the route they have to pick. DREAMS talked to the concerned parties – the students, parents, teachers and experts regarding their personal experiences, the doubts they are having and the things that need to be considered before making such decisions.
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WHAT THE STUDENTS SAY

Nistha Tripathi, a St. Marian is facing the same dilemma as any other student who has recently completed their SLC exams. The results, summed up with the parental pressures to join the science faculty have left her strained out. She initially had plans of joining International Baccalaureate at Ullens. But now, Nistha wishes to join Management and later get a job in a UN body. She also has interest in the field of social work. Which is why, she spent her break volunteering in the construction of library in the nooks and corners of the valley. She is also an active member of a group of youths called ‘Ma Swadeshi’. She is not only having a difficult time convincing her parents to allow her study the subject of her choice, but also having trouble figuring out which college to join. When asked about whether her friends have been influencing her college choice, Nistha says, “My friends very often say that we should all join the same college. Coming from an all girl- Catholic school, it is a little difficult to blend in to the co-ed system. And it does make sense to stick together.”

 

Sushim Thapaliya, a student from Rato Bangala School has already joined A Levels in Non Science group in the college branch of her school and she is pretty excited that her college is going to start its course taking their students to a community service program in Dailekh for a week. Sushim was a little confused initially. She found the subject of law very interesting and she wanted to take a course that offered such programme but she also wants to become a Chartered Accountant. Sushim also found the prospect of joining IB appealing. But since her college declared to deduce the initial admission cost of the sent up distinction holder students from their school branch, it was a little easier for her to make the decisions and she took up A Levels. Now, she has her career pretty much figured out. She plans to study to become a CA but she has also kept a backup plan aside. She plans to join Sunway University, in Malaysia for her Bachelors where she can switch to law later if she changes her mind.

 

Ojaswi Sharma, student of Bagmati School has it easier. From as early as she could remember, she has had a dream of being a dentist. And her parents support the dream she wants to pursue. Which is why, she plans on joining +2 in Science in Xavier Academy, where her aunt teaches and her cousins also study. Ojaswi adds, “Me and my closest friend have both decided to study in the same college. Although, she is studying Management, and I am studying Science, we can still be close if we study in the same college.”

 

WHAT DO THE PARENTS SAY?

Dreams talked with Sushim’s mother, Mrs. Bandana Thapaliya who is an entrepreneur. We asked her view regarding her daughter’s decisions, she says, “My elder son also studied to become a CA. I wasn’t necessarily satisfied with the decision that my both children would pursue the same field. I did want Sushim to take up something different, preferably science, so she could become a doctor. But I stand by her decisions and support her because it is her life and she is the one who has to live it. If what she chose is the subject of her interest, she will have a passion for it which will help her perform well and it will be better for her future. It is not fair for a parent to pressurize their children to shaping their career choices.”

 

WHAT THE TEACHERS SAY?

We talked to Ramesh Adhikari, a Physics teacher who teaches at +2 level in NASA college and Bachelor level students at Himalaya Engineering College. He shares, “From my pedagogical experience, I have seen a lot of students who have merely come to study science because they believe that once they get distinction or first division, science is the only subject fit for them. And the social system is to blame for this because we are the ones who have injected the thought, which is totally wrong. Opting to study science has nothing to do with your grades, but your interest in it. I have seen several students who have passed their SLC with over 90% do not so good and switch their field mid ways to Management or Humanities and I have also seen the so called ‘dark horses’ that have not done so good in their SLC results come back exceptionally well. So, one should always keep their interest and capacity in mind, not the grades when they pick a subject.

 

WHAT DO THE EXPERTS SAY?

Dreams caught up with Dr. Bidya Nath Koirala, an education expert who has been working closely with the government and several other INGOs and NGOs regarding the plans and policies of education. He believes that we have not been providing students with education – Sikshya, but pseudo- education which he terms as Dikshya. It can be bought with a price, not earned with zeal and a passion to learn. Instead of putting in regard the student’s interest and capacity to learn a particular subject, the parents, and teachers have been trying to acquire knowledge in a stream that makes it easier to get jobs or sell them in the market. And the state has been promoting this as well. But it is not the fault of education, but it is a pedagogical problem. He repeatedly insists that it’s not just to follow a ‘Multiple Track System’ right after SLC. A student who is not so interested to learn physics might want to take a computer course. But the Multiple Track System we are following limits the option of choice to the students as it is divided to three streams – Science, Management and Humanities and one cannot opt to choose the subjects of two different streams. The attraction to courses like A-Levels, IB has been increasing as they provide the freedom to let the students choose between the diverse subjects they want to. But due to the commercialization of education, only a small population gets to take these courses, which leaves a mass of students left with a narrowed option for their future. He says, “The best step to take is to follow Single Track System in the +2 which embraces the concept of Credit Hours. A student can then choose subjects s/he wants to study rather than taking up a particular stream which later limits her/his opportunities. Then, the commoners can attain quality education under their affordability.

He shares, “There is so much wrong with the social system which clearly reflects in the field of education as well. And we all have been piling into the heap of wrong doings. The first ones to blame are the educational institutes that are mushrooming all over the nation. They are mostly profit oriented and are opening on every other houses like shops, leading to the commercialization as well as politicization of education. And the government is also responsible not to check their growth and making the process of study very much exam oriented. The teachers add to the chain as they have been promoting the culture of note taking and spoon feeding. Instead of teaching the students to build up their own perspective, the teachers have been providing the students with tonic that might seem fruitful in the short run but doesn’t work in the long run. What the students actually need to learn is to develop analytical and reasoning skills.” He further adds, “The parents mostly want their children to study science. It is not entirely wrong as a student from science background can study the technical subjects like agriculture, forestry, medicine, and engineering or even switch their fields to Humanities or Management. It has got opportunities within and out of the nation. But then parents must stop and think that it’s their children’s lives, and not their own. Parents have a yearning to see their children become what they could not achieve during their life time and they see their kids as a medium to fulfil their own desires. And they end up influencing their children’s choice of study, a decision they might regret for the rest of their lives.

Bikkil Sthapit

Although SLC has been acting as a judge that determines the ‘fit’ and the ‘unfit’ students to acquire higher education, it hasn’t been able to prove itself either. With a mere pass percentage of 43.92, SLC has failed yet again in the year 2070. This poses an important question regarding the direction we are headed to. Our education system is becoming like Frankenstein’s monster, an agency that escapes control and destroys its own creator. With the largest sum of budget being allocated to education every other year, we should have been making a significant progress. On the contrary, we have been going downhill. The fault lies in our social system. The Nepali society sees SLC as an abominable creature. Since SLC is the exam that determines whether you are eligible for your higher studies or not, it is perceived as an object of horror. The parents want their kids to pass SLC by hook or by crook. A lot of parents in the nation self promote unfair means, bribe the inspectors, prepare cheats and forcefully enter inside the exam hall in order to aid their children pass the exams. This shows that the society actually doesn’t want educated people. All it wants is a shiny certificate to hang on the wall that boasts that their kids have made it through the barrier. And this trend continues after SLC as well. The parents want trophy kids and want them to pursue the subjects that supposedly secure a ‘gold plated future’. The students themselves lack proper counseling and go into the direction their family, friends and teachers point them in. Due to the immense pressure, sometimes the people that care the most about your future end up ruining it. There are frustrations, tensions running very high resulting in dysfunctional families. Paying for high school education necessarily doesn’t mean that parents’ responsibility is done. The true duty of parent is to ensure that their children choose the path they wish to take and fully support them. Students need to consider their abilities and urge to learn a particular field and also should regard whether their education is affordable or not.

Since the entire pedagogical system is directing us towards an impasse, the most important of five capitals, the human capital becomes the weakest resulting in weak economy, affecting social structures and institutions and the entire growth of the nation. And the irony lies in the fact that we spent years creating minds that were spoon fed, just another perfect sample of block that easily fits into the wall although we knew what the result was going to be and we end up hiring international ‘whizzes’ that promote our dependency on foreign intelligence which is not the least bit sustainable. Our education system has been a failure since it is failing to teach us the skills to ‘learn to know, learn to be, learn to live together and learn to do’. The traditional education system should be updated opening the options to the students and only then, it can be sustainable and we can change the lane and not end up being in cul de sac. 

 

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Text by: Pragya Thapaliya
Images: Bikkil Sthapit

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