school-end exams: Poor pass rate puts schools in tight spot

Kathmandu
school-end exams: Poor pass rate puts schools in tight spot

Jun 21, 2014-

With School Leaving Certificate success rate remaining dismal in the past five years, the higher secondary schools (HSS) in Kathmandu Valley are struggling to get sufficient enrolment in Grade 11.

This has prompted 21 HSS in the western part of Kathmandu—Kalimati, Kalanki, Balkhu, Tahachal—to forge a loose network in a bid to attract students claiming that they provide equally good education relatively affordable fee structure.

Swagat Shrestha, principal of Kathmandu Valley College (KVC) and Kathmandu District Chairman of Higher Secondary Schools’ Association Nepal (Hissan), said it was necessary to form such network as students’ enrollment in those areas went down significantly. “Earlier, we used to get students from various parts of the Valley. However, the surge in the numbers of HSS and dip in the SLC pass percentage means there are fewer students for the HSS,” said Shrestha.

If 188,027 students who passed the SLC examination this year are to be divided equally, the existing 3,596 HSS in the country will have 52 pupils each.

Around 645 HSS or 20 percent of all the schools are concentrated in the Valley, with many scrambling to attract as many number of the roughly 60,000 fresh SLC graduate every year. According to HSS promoters, most of the students have opted for the Plus Two colleges located in the core city areas like Baneshwor and Lagankhel.

Bishnu Karki, an education expert, claimed that hardly 70 percent of the SLC graduates get enrolled in Grade 11, leaving each HSS with just 35 students. The HSS will struggle to pull in 60 students even if the supplementary exam were to have a 75 pass percentage, he said.  

He argued that the rise in the number of HSS and the resultant competition may have raised the quality of education but it will take a toll on the schools’ sustainability in the long run. “This has promoted an unhealthy competition among the private HSS as many of them are involved in students poaching,” he said.

The problem traces its root to 2009 when the SLC pass rate was an all-time high of 68, prompting many to open HSS in the Valley, he noted. The Higher Secondary Education Board statistics show 1,602 schools or 40 percent of the total schools were affiliated after 2009.

Surendra Thapa, principal of Nepalaya HSS in Kalanki, agress with Karki. He said the decreasing pass rate has promoted unhealthy competition among the HSS to woo students. “This is what compelled us to form the network,” said Thapa whose HSS is also part of the network.

According to Hissan Vice-chairman Ramesh Silwal, an average distribution of students in each HSS stood at 54 last year, including around 70,000 who passed in the supplementary examination. With not much improvement in the pass rate, he expects the number to remain almost the same this year. “This will mainly hit the public and small HSS,” he said.

Silwal stressed the need for proper evaluation of the HSS, including a Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping, before granting new affiliations.

Published: 22-06-2014 09:22

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