Students Bearing the Brunt of Lockdown

Nepal is witnessing an alarming surge in coronavirus cases for the past few weeks. The country has been logging over 8000 new infections everyday from the last few weeks. On Wednesday alone 8,136 cases were reported across the country. According to the Ministry of Health and Population latest data, Nepal has so far recorded 4,72,354 COVID-19 cases. 

The death toll stands at 5, 411.

Due to the rising covid-19 cases across the country followed by lockdown, many educational institutions across the country were closed again to contain the spread of virus which had affected academic activities at various levels, including the postponement of board exams, college exams.

The Secondary Education Examination was to be held from May 27 and grade 12 board examinations from June 6. However, the National Examinations Board postponed the two national-level tests until further notice.

Similarly, the board exam of Bachelor in Arts second year was going on which was also halted due to the restriction imposed by the government amid a spike in covid-19 cases, resulting in a delay for the course completion again.

According to a UNESCO report, over 91 percent of the world’s student population has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Schools and higher educational institutions have been shut down in several countries affected by Covid-19 to curb the spread of the infection. According to the UNESCO report, this has impacted more than 157 crore students across 191 countries.

The government of Nepal had extended the ongoing academic session by two months until June expecting that the extension would make up for the loss in teaching and learning caused by the pandemic last year. However, a second wave of the pandemic has forced the government to halt the in-person learning starting April 18. 

The government is still undecided on whether to postpone the tests until the coronavirus cases subside or adopt alternative modalities for the students’ evaluation. While the students and their parents are in fear that the already lengthy classes could continue further.

Not only this, the lockdown followed by restriction has affected many students willing to apply abroad for their further study too.

The number of students getting admission in foreign higher education institutions had been steadily rising for the past several years, however since the pandemic struck it has gone down drastically, based on the number of no objection letters the Education Ministry has been issuing.

According to the data provided by the Abroad Study Permission Section at the ministry, 58,758 students applied for no-objection certificates to study abroad in the fiscal year 2017-18 and rose to 63, 259 in the fiscal year 2018-19.

However in the fiscal year 2019-20, which ended in mid-July 2020, the number of applicants applying no objection letter declined by almost half to 34, 094 as the government had imposed lockdown and closed services including issuance of NOL from March 24 to July 21 last year.

In the first six months of the current fiscal year 2020-21, altogether 17,218 students received no-objection letters. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology had also stopped issuing no objection letters to study in Australia, Japan, South Korea, Bangladesh, and China citing those countries have imposed restrictions so even if a student gets the visa, they couldn’t travel to those countries.

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