These are unprecedented times for the education sector, but the decision by Tribhuvan University to hold on-site exams instead of proven alternative assessments amid the threat of the Covid-19 Delta variant shows how archaic the institution has become. A second year after the onset of the pandemic, Nepal is barely emerging from a second deadly wave that collapsed the health system and crippled the country for nearly two months. The threat of a third wave looms in Nepal, which is struggling to obtain doses of vaccines. Whether it’s opening our schools, offices and factories or bringing together thousands of students for on-site exams, every decision we make today must consider the implications for health and wellbeing. -being citizens. Now is not the time to be complacent.
The reckless announcement to hold sit-ins next month, which once again exposes the lack of coordination between different government agencies, must be immediately corrected and revised to reflect our epidemiological situation. Of the 77 districts, 75 districts are subject to some form of restriction with a total ban on mass gatherings. Bringing together thousands of students and supervisors for on-site exams is no different than opening schools, which are currently closed given the fragile situation from which we have not yet emerged unharmed. Following last year’s pandemic, the education sector has gone online. In a welcome move, the government also approved internal assessments for schools, and various universities have also successfully held virtual exams. A rough analysis of the age distribution of Covid-19 infections and deaths shows how crucial these decisions have been in preventing infections and saving lives.
We must ensure the academic advancement of students, but it is criminal to do so at the cost of lives and incalculable risk to society. Tribhuvan University has 1,124 affiliated colleges and 61 constituent colleges with over 415,000 final year students under 125 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. However, the total number of applicants exceeds 500,000, taking into account the number of students who will retake the exams. You would think that the oldest and largest university center in the country is making rational decisions after learning from last year’s mistakes, and quickly offering alternative assessments like open book exams, home exams or exams. online ; but like last year, the university last week published the exam schedules for the blocked exams of the first and second years in different faculties of the bachelor’s level programs. It is an irrational and unwarranted decision on the part of the university administration when the positive daily rate of new infections is well above the authorized limit of 5%.
There should be no room for miscalculations and missteps, since a large part of the population is not vaccinated. Officials at Tribhuvan University need to understand that holding exams on site will result in a massive movement of students and officials as they travel and congregate inside. It doesn’t take an epidemiologist to figure out that this is not safe and that it could be a super spread event with the Delta variant that can make the epidemic curve exponential. How many people have to die or contract the infection before the government starts making appropriate decisions for Covid?