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COVID starts taking a toll on students

With examinations being halted students say they are staring at a bleak future

2021 May 15, 11:14, Kathmandu
This image shows a building of Institute of Engineering (IoE) Paschimancal Campus in Pokhara, Kaski district in June 2019. Photo courtesy: Anish Aryal

“In the year 2076, we were studying in the third year and in the next year too we were still in the third year. It is 2078 now and we still haven’t been able to give our third-year examinations,” an engineering student from the Institute of Engineering (IoE) Paschimancal Campus laments.

The coronavirus pandemic has upended our lives. Be it physical or mental health or financially or socially, the COVID-19 has affected literally all aspects of life. It is even worse for students. Classes and examinations have been halted for so long that on average every student is lagging six to eight months behind. And with the situation being what it is, students are bound to face more obstacles with their studies. Moreover, what we students worry about is that this entire episode is going to ultimately affect our future, our career prospects.

In the particular case of Paschimanchal Campus, the examinations have been shifted twice due to national and local outbreaks of the coronavirus. When this current surge in infections halts and things normalise, which we hope will sooner rather than later, students will have to give back-to-back examinations. It will be worse for students who will have to sit for tests of those subjects that they had failed in previous semesters. Final year students of Paschimanchal Campus have still not been able to graduate with just two examinations remaining.

For instance, a few months back, Rita (name changed) started showing symptoms of COVID. She was literally caught in between the devil and the deep sea. Missing out on the examinations would hurt her future prospects but with the symptoms of the coronavirus so visible she could not attend them. What made matters worse was that there was no help forthcoming from either her teachers or the college administration. She finally decided against giving the examinations and now when examinations are held she will have to sit for 16 tests in a span of two months. Diamonds are formed under pressure but there is a limit there too.

Meanwhile, +2 graduates of the year 2077 batch are also facing a torrid time. Even when over 1,500 cases were being reported across the country they had to give their examinations. But now since all examinations have been halted, the entrance examinations for medical and paramedical faculties haven’t been taken. These students at the moment are staying idle with nothing much to do.

If the situation worsens due to the COVID-19, these students will probably have to sit for the entrance examinations with those from the 2078 batch. This basically means that a whole year is wasted for these students and in the long run, it is the country that loses out. The students say that it is the irresponsibility of the Nepal Medical Council. They state that the council could have held the examinations when the situation was not so dire like how other faculties did.

Amidst all this uncertainty some colleges have been holding online classes. However, this option too is not viable for all students. The major problem is that not all students have access to a computer or a reliable internet connection. The other issue revolves around the effectiveness of such classes. All subjects cannot be taught properly through the online medium. Also, some teachers who may be fantastic in physical classes may not be able to give their best during online teaching. Moreover, some students need the physical presence of teachers and friends to understand certain things.

With the number of infections and deaths due to the COVID-19 rising in recent days, there’s little to no probability of physical classes or examinations happening any time soon. So, however difficult it may be initially, transition to the online medium of learning is a must. What would have helped is if the education system of our country had tried out this option earlier and not waited to adapt according to the changing situation.

Author Sugam Mahat is a student of Civil Engineering at Institute of Engineering, Pulchowk Campus, Lalitpur
Author Sugam Mahat is a student of Civil Engineering at Institute of Engineering, Pulchowk Campus, Lalitpur
Covid toll on students bleak future Institute of Engineering IoE campus Effect of COVID
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