In Nepal, each of us remembers giving that dreaded, hated SLC (School leaving certificate) exams, “the iron gate”.
I believe that SLC is now an obsolete concept that should be thrown off a cliff !
Here are some reasons why.
1) SLC discriminates of both good performing and bad-performing students:
Having SLC (standardized tests) is bad on two levels. First: if you are better educated, you still have to still study for an inferior test and waste 2 years on it (in other words be dumber). (For example, this is true for a lot of private school students whose English skills go down with the SLC outdated and averaged down curriculum).
Second – if you have had a bad education so far (as in many public schools in villages across Nepal), you don’t have the burden of being forced to take an unfair test to remind yourself how inferior you are to those who have had better education to excel on this test. Every Nepali students deserve a test that improves your self-confidence and dignity than the humiliation they get now. People of different educational backgrounds just don’t deserve to be judged at the same level.
2) SLC stunts Nepali diversity’s strengths & creativity:
If you have a fish, monkey, elephant and a dog and give them the same test, which is to climb a tree, would you call such a test fair? Standardized tests suck for students specially from diverse backgrounds such as ours It might have been an easy lazy way to judge the country’s education standards. But in Nepal, different students come from different backgrounds and should be judged based on their environment than one homogeneous test to proclaim if you are dumber or smarter than the rest.
Education has to be made such that competition is based on each student’s strengths and uniqueness, not on their weaknesses or similarities ! Let us use our diversity’s strengths and uniqueness while creating a meritocratic culture for students. I believe instead of standardizing, we have to harness the different strengths of Nepalis of diverse backgrounds separately. Prosperity comes from harnessed diversity.
3) We save tons of money:
If you scrap SLC, It saves Nepali tax payers tons of money. With the money saved the we can train teachers better and put more teachers into primary and secondary schools and offer better facilities and resources to schools. According to this statistics, Nepal Government allocation to the education sector has doubled in just four years reaching Rs 63.91 billion in 2011/12 from Rs 27.06 billion in 2007/08. A few billion rupees is perhaps wasted yearly on executing SLC in 4000 Villages around the country.
So what do we do about revolutionizing education ?
- Lets set up different examination standards that are more practical and community focused (i.e harnesses strengths based on the locale, culture). Let us decentralize examinations itself. Only a select few core subjects should be mandated for all, to make sure global competitiveness and cultural harmony – My personal suggestion would be only languages like Mathematics, English and Nepali to be made mandatory for all to communicate better. Everything else, your community chooses depending on your local strengths. Who knows mountain climbing or mountain medicine might be a better education for Sherpa students than lets say, Chemistry! (no offense to the chemists out there )
- Lets give power to make curriculum at local level. Ensure they are practice based (NOT rote-ing theories without knowing how to implement them in your life).
- Lets make education project focused, where students are expected to do their own projects. Let us reward uniqueness and scrap the lazy quizzes or multiple tests. Grading has to be about practical results and soft skills improvements.
- Lets celebrate failure. Make an effective program that targets effectively how to use past failures to succeed. Our society frowns upon Failure , yet the most effective way to learn by failing. One experiments, one fails, one learns and only one then wins.
- Education has to be extended to be done inside a society, not just inside a school. Internships ( helping in real organizations while studying) should be new norm.
So how do the students compete for jobs when they all come from different backgrounds with no way to compare them?
First of all, our focus should not be on lining up for jobs but rather for creating jobs. Let us shy away from the illusion that we have to complete Masters or PhD, to be qualified for a dignified career. Most successful people I know, don’t even come close to this level. We should teach students right from high school to create opportunities from the strengths they learnt at school and concentrate on improving their soft skills ( how to deal with people skills)
Second: In every company or organization, we need different qualifications and experiences. This is where diversity plays a role. Diversity brings in specific types of leadership, some at local knowledge, some at business, some at local dialect, while some at public relations sensitive to cultural norm. Experience beats plain theory any day. This way students coming from different backgrounds can compete by utilizing their unique strengths for the same job.
But you may argue: not everyone is capable of creating opportunities or being self-employed?
I don’t agree. How can you say that we each are not capable of creating opportunities? I believe each one of us were breath-breathtakingly creative when we were young. Many of us just killed our dreams as we grew older. To change this, how about we try something innovative or crazy in our education. Lets teach students to create, not follow. Lets teach students to start business, not educate them for jobs. Lets teach students to create a niche (based on their environment, culture, norms), and not to be part of a huge mass of workers on an assembly line.
” Either we prepare a Nepali to follow her own dreams or they will be hired to follow someone else’s dreams! “
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