Confusions Of SEE System
Since the introduction of the Secondary Education Examination (SEE) in 2015, various ambiguities and dilemmas have appeared in the school education system. The decision to replace the SLC by SEE without adequate consultations among the stakeholders of school education- teachers, management, parents, students and educationists has intensified the problems of understanding the essence of the latter. Three years down the lane, the situation is no different. What is more worrisome is the fact that teachers and the school management themselves lack uniformity in clear understanding of the newly introduced letter grading system. This often manifests in terms of the multiple interpretations of a single SEE results by the schools.
To put simply, SEE is a letter grading system that assesses the performance of the students in grades rather than in marks. Essentially, it is a continuous assessment system aimed at testing the multiple skills and abilities of students instead of checking the content mastery. However, this hasn’t been implemented in our context with the conventional examination system still in operation. Although practical sections have been introduced for various subjects, the manner of conducting such exams is problematic. It is learnt that the school provides maximum practical scores to almost every student without even taking the practical exams. This has raised a severe question mark over the credibility of our evaluation. Consequently, students have started taking exams for granted.
In the absence of a robust SEE system, different problems have emerged. First, the sharp decline in the reading habits among students is a matter of grave concern. Owing to the misleading message that nobody would fail in SEE, students have preferred staying in their comfort zone without bothering much about their study. Consequently, the number of students obtaining higher grade is decreasing but those securing lower grade is increasing. While 11,285 students secured ‘D’ grade (0.85-1.20) last year, the number has increased by manifold and reached 58,688 this year. Such a regressive trend among the students pose great obstacle in producing the high quality graduates for accelerating the economic development of nation.
The problem has been aggravated by the major policy lacunae which states that on the one hand nobody can fail under this system on the other hand there is a minimum grade limit to join the 11th standard. For instance, students securing less than 1.6 GPA are ineligible to pursue any courses in the Plus Two school level in the current system. In other words, the students failing to secure the minimum grade are equivalent to being failed as they can’t pursue higher studies.
Second, there is the pertinent issue of reliability of the SEE system. Taking advantage of the policy loophole, the private education institutions have adopted a false strategy of glorifying their student achievements by converting the GPA into percentage literally killing the spirit of the letter grading system. In a bid to lure students, schools have aggressively pursued the strategy of promoting their institutions in the post result scenario by profiling the merit list of their SEE appeared students often undermining the ethical principles.
Third, the general confusions among parents and the entire society is a serious matter. In most cases, parents have often found it increasingly difficult to understand the SEE results. Perhaps the limited knowledge on the part of the teachers and students themselves has worsened the situation.
Nevertheless, the state has largely failed to orient the entire school community about the SEE system. In the absence of adequate trainings and other learning opportunities, the teachers in the school system are still in deep confusion about the SEE grading mechanism let alone the students. With the high-handedness of the international donor community in shaping the higher education policy of the country, challenges of effectively implementing the SEE system have been growing. Lack of intent and will on the part of our government is definitely a sign of bad omen on the part of successfully transitioning from the old SLC to the new SEE system.
It is high time the state be responsible for implementing a prudent education policy that can cater to the aspirations of the students and the entire society. Moreover, the state needs to direct its efforts towards sensitising students, parents, teachers and the education managers among others about the SEE system. This in turn helps to cultivate a different mind-set required in the GPA system and debunk some of the prevailing myths about the assessment criteria.
Orienting the SEE towards a more learner centred and analytical system will be crucial in redefining our high school system. More importantly, developing practical criteria of assessments- group discussion, presentation and case studies to rate the students under the GPA should be put into practice sooner than later. This will automatically encourage interactive teaching-learning and equip the students with the necessary knowledge, skills and competencies to perform better in the higher education including the job market in future.