Reforms in SLC after 81 years: Failing subjects you don’t like makes no difference

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The following is a translation of a Nepalese article that appeared in Setopati earlier this month. In an effort to continue to provide information about the School Leaving Certification (SLC) examinations–the Nepalese equivalent of high school diploma examination–I am reproducing it here.

(For other posts about the examination click here, here, here and here. You can view an image of the original article here.)

The translation was again kindly done by the same person as all other posts translated from Nepalese. I reproduce it here with some of my own revisions etc. Hot links, obviously, are my addition.

Sadly however, the core issues not just with SLC, not just with the whole of the education system but with ALL the systems in the country, namely the crippling corruption and the dinosaurian bureaucracy, remain to be addressed and reformed adequately!

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Reforms in SLC after 81 years: Failing subjects you don’t like makes no difference

Shova Sharma, Kathmandu, Dec. 12, 2014

Six letter-grade descriptors Outstanding, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor will be used to describe a student’s performance

SLC reform after 81 years-feat imageThe SLC examinations were begun in 1933, at the time of the Rana Prime Minister Juddha Sumshere. Since then they have been referred to as an ‘Iron Gate’ all students have to pass through. The practice of associating SLC performance with one’s dignity and honor is still prevalent in the society. Students have even come to identify it as a kind of a ‘Bogeyman’. Not surprisingly, as a result of the fear it instills in them, one hears of many students committing suicide when they discover they have failed.

The Government has introduced reforms to SLC after 81 years. The system of giving numerical scores has been replaced with a letter-grading system. Although this may appear to be an insignificant change, it can have a big impact on the psychology of students.

In recent years, the results of SLC examination held nationwide have not been all that encouraging. According to the Office of the Controller of Examination, most of the students in the rural areas fail subjects like English and Mathematics. Concluding that the pass/fail system of evaluation in the examination is not beneficial to the students, the National Curriculum Development and Evaluation Council has decided to replace it with the letter-grading system.

Once the grading system is introduced, even if the students score low in subjects like English, Mathematics or any other subject, they will not fail the examinations. Students weak in English, Math, Science or any other difficult subjects won’t need to unnecessarily fear failing the examinations.

For every subject, students will receive one of the following letter-grade descriptor: Outstanding, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor. The council has decided on the following conversion system:

  • a numerical score from 90 to 100 will be deemed an “Outstanding” performance and awarded a letter grade of “A+”
  • a numerical score from 80 to 89 will be deemed an “Excellent” performance and awarded a letter grade of “A”
  • a score from 60 to 79 “Very Good” receiving a letter grade of “B”
  • a score from 40 to 59 “Good,” and a letter grade of “C”
  • a score from 25 to 39 “Fair” and a letter grade of “D”
  • a score below 25 “Poor” and a letter grade of “E”

Let’s say for instance, that a student is weak in English. If s/he scores less than 25, then s/he will get an ‘E’ grade only in English. The poor English grade will have no effect on the good scores and grades in other subjects. If after SLC the student wants to pursue his/her higher education in Mathematics, s/he need not worry unnecessarily because of her low grade in English.

Once implemented, stressing over the fear of failing in a subject(s) they have little interest in, will be a thing of the past. Not preparing for subjects they are not interested in will make no difference in the end.

As long as their grade in the subject they want to pursue is good, colleges will not unnecessarily question students about their low grades in other subjects.

Though the debate over scrapping SLC [tenth grade] and extending secondary schooling to 12th grade is still ongoing, the council has decided to replace the grading system. The SLC examination will continue to be administered by the Office of the Controller of Examination as per Bishnu Dwarey, the Examination Controller.

“The decision to replace the numerical grading system with letter grades is final,” he added.

This year, this will affect only SLC candidates from technical schools, according to Dwarey. From next year onwards, this grading system will be implemented nationwide.

With this system, regardless of the numerical score attained by a student, the SLC board will give them a certificate.

“Once implemented, regardless of their numerical scores, students will not be told ‘you have failed.’ Rather, they will get a certificate with the letter grades attained,” added Dwarey.

Those not satisfied with their results can retake the exam within a year.

Currently, colleges admit–to eleventh grade–only those that have passed SLC. Once the new grading system is introduced, colleges will have the freedom to decide on the letter-grade based admission criteria they want to implement, according to Examination Controller Dwarey.


Published: Friday, Dec. 12, 2014 18:40:36



The following were added after the publication of the blog post because of their relevance.

Nepali Times (Sept. 14, 2018). After quantity, Nepal’s education needs quality. “Inadequate training of teachers and over-reliance on defective textbooks keeps learning sub-standard.” [Added Sept. 20, 2018.]

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