An Interview with Professor Khaniya

Mr. Test Writer,

Does your test really test what it should test?

It is all apparent that testing in general and language testing in particular in Nepal have been plagued with a bundle of issues. Some of the blazing issues that call for immediate intervention include memory and content based (English language) tests, slipshod marking system, lack of post result analysis, derogatory influence of exams on education, guess paper based exams, abolishment of entrance exams, issue of remarking papers, escalating cheating and so forth. Unfortunately, exam authorities have turned deaf ear to the issues. I put a few questions before Professor Tirth Raj Khaniya, a well known expert on the subject of testing if his visionary perspectives and long gained expertise could offer some guidelines to trim them down. Here are his insights and observations in his own words.

Please also feel free to put your comments, no matter you like or you feel difficult to digest the views expressed in the interview.


1.   Professor Khaniya, you have been involved in testing and evaluation for a long time. We do acknowledge your contribution in exam reforms in Nepal. However, if you look at the current trends in testing in Nepal, are you satisfied with what and how we have been testing?

Your question reminds me of the time when, after completing my PH. D. from University of Edinburgh, I was flying back to Kathmandu from London in the then RNAC flight thinking of how I would be working on bringing about reforms in the SLC Examination in particular (my area of investigation) and examination system of Nepal in general. As a matter of fact, I was able to influence some authorities involved in the management of the SLC exam to initiate some reform activities. I must say that there have been several changes in the SLC exam since then. However, I should also confess that I have not been effective in bringing about the reforms I wanted to bring about in the SLC Exam. What it is that I wanted the SLC to be is both an exit exam, as it is now (administrative), as well as a research process (academic) to bring about reform in the whole school sector of education. What it means is using the SLC exam as evidence of school performance and post analysis of the exam would give us sufficient information about what kind of intervention is needed in the school sector reform so as to make the system better. Doing this every year would obviously build the system better. It is mainly because of our failure in utilizing useful information available from the post analysis of the academic aspect of the SLC exam, even after spending a lot of money on school education, accomplishment is very little.

In response to your query, I must say that my academic pursuit forces me to work on making examinations as powerful instruments for causing learning, which is possible only when we produce good exams, but the situation in which I and we have been working leads me/us to be with the community that understand(s) exam only as an administrative tool. In that sense I have not been able to accomplish my mission so far. I will continue working towards this direction. The new generation is very positive about such changes. I am optimistic about it.

2.   When we look at the tests made in Nepal-whether be them for the English language or for other subjects/disciplines, we find most of the questions can be answered only if students have committed the contents well. Are we supposed to test that at all?

You have rightly touched on the main problem of testing in Nepal. As a matter of fact, we do not care what questions we ask, what answer our questions will stimulate the learners to produce, how to develop a question, how a learner will answer our question, etc. Especially in language testing, asking a question is more difficult than answering it if we really appreciate the art of questioning.

In response to your concern, I would say that the whole lot of the people involved in testing in the present set up does not have adequate orientation to testing. Their main source of knowledge about testing is that they took exams during their study period. But in modern education, testing has become an independent discipline and thus people who want to work in the field of testing need training on it.  Without training they cannot appreciate that a question cannot be a question simply because of its structure and a question mark, rather the one who asks a question needs to know what he is asking for (i.e. the expected answer or response or performance). On most occasions, I have seen people setting questions in such a way that there is no way for creative and innovative answers. To give you an example, in most question papers on the top, you find the statement saying “Candidates are required to give their answers in their own words as far as practicable” whereas you do not find even a single question in the paper not asked in the previous exams. How can the teacher expect original answers from students when he has not used even a single word in the whole set of question paper on his own? The argument is that in order to stimulate students to produce creative and innovative answers, you need to ask such questions and this is possible if testing procedures (e.g. specification) are truly followed.

3.   You have written a book entitled ‘Exams for Enhanced Learning’.  Contradictorily, tests are criticized for exerting deleterious influence on education and for not being able to assess the actual competence of a person. If so, why should test exist at all? Do not we have any alternative to it?

In my views, what we test, if done professionally, represents what we want our learners to learn. It makes the learner clear what they should strive for. In addition, testing is associated with intrinsic and extrinsic values which make the learner work hard. The combination of all these has a lot to do with how teachers prepare students for testing, how students prepare for it and how parents support them for getting through it. Then if we have good tests, working for such tests will enhance students’ learning. By the same token, if it happens to be a bad test, students are bound to suffer from its derogatory influence. The argument is that derogatory influence of an exam is not inherent, it depends upon whether the test is good or bad. A good test allows students to deal with what they are supposed to learn, and through testing their learning becomes powerful.

The main crux is what we ask students to produce and how we want them to demonstrate. Since a human brain is intelligent, and can tell a lie, as you said, it may be difficult to test real competence. However, a good test can lead a learner to truly perform tasks which can be accepted as an indicator of the learner’s competence.

My argument about exams is that at least for a foreseeable future, exams are likely to survive because even the advanced technology could not find a substitute for an exam. If so, why not prepare for using the power of exams which leads towards better learning, and it is possible if we design good tests

4.   Many allege that exams in Nepal have virtually remained guess-paper based? Why is it so? How can we check it?

As I said above, students’ behavior in an exam is shaped up by the questions we ask. When we ask questions borrowed from previous exam papers, commercial notes and guide books, we are forcing the students to be guess paper based. We can change the situation only when we make our students know that questions will not be based on market materials, and marking will be done on the basis of a marking scheme not on the basis of the answers copied from different sources.

5.   Specifically, what are English language testing issues in Nepal? What efforts are to be made in order to check them?

There are several issues in language testing in Nepal. One of the major issues, for example, is that we need to be clear about what we want to test- language or content. For me it is language not content.  If we want to test language we should not put a pressure on the students about contents. Content in language is merely a way of eliciting language. Lack of knowledge about this concept makes the whole process of testing complicated. We do not understand the difference between asking Nepalese students to write on Pashupatinath and The White House. When students do not write, we do not know whether it is because of lack of knowledge or language. In language testing we need to make sure that when students do not give us proper answer it is because of language not because of content.

6.   Particularly what tips or suggestions do you provide to test writers so that they unveil creative and critical abilities of the students?

What we need to understand is testing should not be treated as an isolated activity; rather it is a comprehensive activity. What I mean by this is that testing cannot be improved only by changing tests. Before we produce a changed test in an exam hall, we need to present it to the classroom in the beginning of the academic year so that the teachers and students understand what they are expected of; be it creative or innovative or practical or something they need to demonstrate. Once students and teachers know what they need to demonstrate in the exam, they will work for that and when what we want them to learn and what they need to demonstrate in order to pass an exam become the same, then we can concentrate on strengthening creative and critical abilities of the students through and for the exam.

7.   Language Testing has been established as a separate discipline elsewhere and that has systematized the evaluation of language learning from perspectives to practices. What about ours? Do not you think we need to make it more organized here in Nepal?

Everywhere language testing is emerging as an independent discipline.  In a short period of time, let’s say, after 1960s, it has grown in such a way that it is like any other disciplines which have long history and rich literature. Nepal’s case is the same. When we were students in Nepal, there was no concept of language testing. We were trained through measurement and evaluation concepts under pure education courses. Now we have a 50 marks’ course for language testing. I agree with you that we need to do more like forming language testing groups, publishing language testing journals, organizing special activities for training and sharing focusing on language testing, etc. The increasing popularity of language testing is creating sufficient spaces for doing what you are proposing.

8.   Often fingers are lifted on the marking system in Tribhuvan University and elsewhere. Many departments have been set on fire alleging subjective and careless examination of the papers? What do you have to say on this?

You are right. Our department was set on fire two times during my headship. I see problems not only in marking, but in the whole process of enrolling students for teaching and testing. Recalling that time, I think the students who were serious and regular in the class were not the ones who damaged the department. Those who led the vandalism were guest students but strong enough to exploit the situation. Saying so, I also agree with you that our testing involves subjectivity and carelessness. We need to provide some sort of professional development courses to all who are involved in teaching and testing about language testing. We happen to wrongly believe that good teachers are good testers. Once questions are developed professionally, many anomalies can be sorted out

9.   Students of TU and Higher Secondary Board have expressed their disgruntlement over the marking system time and again. Universities in the world do have the provision of remarking system. Do not you think TU should introduce this system at least for the students’ satisfaction and also to show the fairness of exams?

Many universities have a provision for an appeal when students do not accept results for any reason. In order to satisfy them, the provision for remarking is a way to give them justice. There is another advantage of remarking, that is, making teachers feel responsible for what they do. When teachers know that they are not the final authority for marking, when they know that the answer sheet may be examined again, they would to be more serious and do the job sensibly.

10. Tribhuvan University abolished entrance exams in some disciplines? How justified was the decision? Is there any university in the world which holds open admission?

It is unfortunate that the TU abolished entrance exam in some disciplines. As a matter of fact, it comes under university’s autonomy- a university making decisions on who to be allowed for admission and who not- my argument is, it is a matter of deciding on the quality of students for enrollment. When a university has no say over what kind of students it wants to invite and select, how can it talk about the quality of its product? Our student leaders also feel proud being able to allow those who do not merit for admission. They do not understand how it damages university’s credibility. In my view, this decision should be revisited.

11.    Last but far from the least, cheating has been rampant in Nepal-whether be it SLC or Higher Secondary or even exams of university? It has become a matter of headache for one and all. Why do you think has it happened? What do you think could be the best solution to check it? Can anything be done on the part of test writers to check cheating?

I am of the opinion that cheating is a byproduct. Students go for cheating because cheating is possible in the exam, they have seen their friends passing exams by cheating, questions are asked based on previous exam papers and published materials available in the market, etc. If we do not ask cheatable questions, if we effectively communicate to them that cheating cannot lead them to pass an exam, if we ask them questions answers of which cannot be supplied through cheating, and if we make them that cheated answers would not be awarded marks, I think they would not cheat.

Yes, you are right, we can stop cheating by improving how questions are asked and how answers are expected. But this has to be clearly communicated to teachers and students and classroom teaching has to be improved.

Thank you so much for illuminating us with your viewpoints.


 About Professor Khaniya 

Tirth Raj Khaniya is a familiar name in the arena of Nepalese education and ELT both. A Ph. D. in Language Testing from University of Edinburgh, UK.  Dr. Khaniya led several examination and education reform taskforces. Currently, a Professor of English Education, he teaches language testing in the Department of English Education, TU.  To his credit, he has a number of books and articles published in national and international journals on Nepalese education and ELT. New Horizons in Education in Nepal (2007) and Examination for Enhanced Learning (2005) are his highly acclaimed works. 

11 comments

  • PRAVEEN KUMAR YADAV

    Respected Sajan Sir, the editor of NeltaChoutari has raised genuine issues regarding testing in Nepal in May Issue 2011.

    Respected Guru Khaniya Sir has professionally dealt these issues from his knowledge and experience in the interview posted in the issue. He has shared a lot of issues of testing in Nepal and provided some suggestions that can be incorporated to bring out reforms in testing system. It is true that whole lot of the people involved in testing in the present set up does not have adequate orientation to testing and creative and innovative answer type questions are not set up in the examinations. This has led the exams in Nepal are guess-paper based. It has also promoted the culture of cheating at exams.

    I went through the interview minutely and I got familiar with the issues of testing in Nepal and how they could be addressed. However, I could not find the clear answer of the question no. 9 “Do not you think TU should introduce this system at least for the students’ satisfaction and also to show the fairness of exams?”

    I would like to request both interviewer and interview to post the clear answer of the question. If posted, regular readers like me could be benefitted much from this.

    Thank You!

    Praveen

  • Pingback: May Issue of NELTA Choutari « Nelta Choutari

  • shresthap

    The power of tests?

    Fist of all, my sincere apologies for keeping quiet for a long time! As soon as Sajan’s ji’s message hit my mailbox, the topics published in this issue of NELTA Choutari started invoking thoughts in my mind and therefore, I was forced to find some time to read at least Prof. Khaniya’s interview. My sincere thanks to both Prof Khaniya and Sajan ji for creating this opportunity of dialogue despite the geographical distance.

    Congratulations to the NELTA Choutari editorial team for sustaining the voice of NELTA online through this forum!

    In this comment, I would like to express a few things that came to my mind while reading the interview. Due to my longstanding interest in language assessment (definitely not as long as Prof. Khaniya’s!) and research in this area, I could not help expressing my view here. My thoughts are presented under four sub-headings below and in the order of Prof Khaniya’s response to the interview questions.

    Test reforms?
    In response to the first interview question, Prof Khaniya said ‘… I have not been effective in bringing about the reforms I wanted to bring about in the SLC Exam’ and elsewhere during the interview. Undoubtedly, Prof Khaniya’s contribution to the field of language testing, particularly washback effects, has been recognized well after his research at the University of Edinburgh (i.e., Khaniya, 1990) which he also refers to. However, I am surprised that he seems to have taken an individualistic view when it comes to influencing the existing testing system in the country. As it is commonly accepted now that any human activity has a social dimension including language testing (e.g., see McNamara & Roever, 2006) I wondered if attempts to bring about changes to the language testing regime in Nepal would be more feasible and sustainable through more collaborative efforts although individual efforts do play a crucial role. I am sure the whole community of NELTA colleagues will be in favour of such an endeavour (a communities of practice approach (e.g., Wenger, 1999) that is often voiced within the NELTA community).

    Good test?

    Prof Khaniya frequently mentioned ‘good tests’ in the interview. But I am not entirely clear what he meant by this term. In my view, a test is neither good nor bad on its own. It becomes good or bad depending on how it is used, that is, what purposes it is used for. The most important thing to be clear about is the construct validity of the test. In particular, Mesick’s (1996) notion of construct validity is crucial: what do we want the test to test? Most importantly, his notion of consequential validity is directly relevant to a high stakes test such as SLC which may have severe consequences to test-takers. Also, the same test results have been used for different purposes ranging from employment and study to whether to marry someone or not in the Nepalese context.

    In my view, unless the test construct is made clear to testers and test users including students, there is likely to be more negative washback effects than the positive ones. Again, a concerted effort may be more effective.

    Language or content?

    I agree with Prof Khaniya’s view that we need to test language not content only to some extent. If we accept that language learning means being able to communicate with other users of the same language (e.g., English) and getting something done, then focusing on language alone may not be sufficient. Therefore, content is also an inevitable part of language learning and testing. Likewise, when we communicate with others in any mode (written, spoken or visual), we refer to something or phenomena around us. Without the content, the meaning may not be achieved while communicating about such phenomena. Therefore, whether to test language only or language and content both depends on our view of language and language learning.

    Tests driving classroom teaching and learning?

    Reading between the lines, Prof Khaniya seemed to be suggesting that test should drive the classroom teaching and learning (apologies if I interpreted wrongly!). There is no doubt that tests are very powerful and their power has been widely acknowledged in language testing too (e.g., Shohamy, 2001). However, when tests drive classroom teaching and learning, the power of test can often be abused as can be seen in the context of Nepal and elsewhere (for example, see Shohamy, 2001 who talks about such abuse by governments). Increasingly, assessment scholars have called for learning-oriented assessment (see Boud & Falchikov, 2006). Therefore, the long-term goal of tests should be learning and they should be subservient to learning. I assume that Prof Khaniya’s position may not be different from what I am proposing here.

    Due to the time constraint, I am unable to comment on other articles which look equally insightful and informative. But I hope to be able to interact in future.

    Any comments on my comment are welcome.

    Prithvi Shrestha
    NELTA Life Member

    Lecturer in ELT | Department of Languages | The Open University, UK

    References

    Boud, D., & Falchikov, N. (2006). Aligning assessment with long-term learning. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 31(4), 399-413.
    Khaniya, T. R. (1990). Examinations as instruments for educational change. PhD PhD Dissertation/ Thesis, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh.
    McNamara, T. F., & Roever, C. (2006). Language testing : the social dimension. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.
    Messick, S. (1996). Validity and washback in language testing. Language Testing, 13(3), 241-256. doi: 10.1177/026553229601300302
    Shohamy, E. (2001). The Power of Tests: A Critical Perspective on the Uses of Language Tests. New York: Longman.
    Wenger, E. (1999). Communities of practice : learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Professor Khaniya wrote the following mail to me after he read all the comments:

    Dear Sajan ji,
    Thank you for all the efforts you did to bring up some important issues in Lg testing. On behalf of me, please convey my appreciation to all those who read my arguments and commented on the issues.
    Best
    T R Khaniya

  • Suresh Shrestha

    No doubt, today’s world with newly invented tools and high aspirations to touch the horizon of greater attainments is almost against the old world of FILL-YOUR-MIND-AS-YOU-FILL-A-CONTAINER teaching-testing trends ludicrously based on acts of cramming the content-based learning stuff keeping the learners’ competence-based creativity at bay.

    We have realized it countless times and are still optimistic about some kind of MIRACLE to turn the tables in our favor. Let’s be hopeful that our journey from teaching to testing will soon be inventively exploratory enough to hit the most-awaited-cum-demanded target.

    Let’s wish ourselves, “BEST OF ACT!”

  • Bikash Nepal, Birgunj Parsa (NGO)

    It is very nice to go through May Issue, 2011 of NELTA CHOUTARI, which focuses on testing system prevailing in Nepal, its challenges and some ways to overcome the challenges. However, I would like to add one effective way that can be followed to improve and reform the existing cheating trend in Nepal.

    A project can be developed to improve the existing cheating culture in Nepal. We have designed it and it is being implemented by Bikash Nepal in Parsa district

    With financial support of Alliance for Social Dialogue (ASD) Kathmandu, Bikash Nepal, an NGO registered at Birgunj in Parsa district has been implementing the project entitled Reducing Cheating Trend in S.L.C. Exam in Parsa District. This is an innovative and creative move towards overcoming the challenges of cheating culture in Nepal.

    Background/Rationale of the Project

    The School Leaving Examination is a nationwide exam for grade 10 students. It is seen as an Iron Gate for students around the country and students prepare from grade 8 onwards for this exam with extra tutorial classes. It is also a comprehensive exam for all subjects which add to the pressure for students. Since the grade 10 exam is viewed with such importance from everyone, there is immense pressure to pass and do well in it. Though many students do well in the exams, there is a low pass out rate for many others around the country. There has been an increasing tendency to cheat in this exam as well to get good results. Good results are seen as an essential for students future by them, by their parents, teachers, and schools and all concerned parties promote cheating as a means of passing or getting good schores sometimes as has been seen in many parts of Parsa disrict. This project is designed to address the secondary level education problems of cheating in Parsa disrict. According to the DOE Parsa; the total number of secondary school is 88 including the existed 8 higher secondary schools. Among them, there are 40 private schools and 48 community managed schools in the district. The total pass percentage in the S.L.C. exam was only 49% in the year 2065. The majority of the students that passed were from private schools which are mostly located in urban and semi urban areas.

    The pass rate of community schools was nominal where the children of poor, disadvantaged, Dalits, Janajati and Madheshi community study. Quality education is missing from the early years, which leads to cheating in later years to pass exams and receive certificates. There are some public school teachers who do not teach class regularly or go to class without any preparations which leads to low performance of students in exams. With low quality of education in schools, children are not able to think critically and analyze and are thus taught to memorize and write in exams. The recent Liberal Promotion Policy (LPP) is also misinterpreted by teachers as passing students to the next level without following the Continuous Assessment System (CAS). This can lead to having students at higher level without basic knowledge on subjects who will not be able to do well at standardized national level exams like the S.L.C. So it at the best interest of teachers, parents, students and schools to promote cheating to pass out students who might not otherwise pass. Instead of dealing with root problems on why students fail, teachers, management committees, and other stakeholders take a easy way out by helping students cheat and pass out of school. Once the students are out of school, they are not the problem of the school. Cheating in exams starts from earlier years especially in the district level grade 8 examination and is worst at the School Leaving Certificate (S.L.C) exam. As a result, the focus is on the cheating trend than on improving learning competencies of students and schools are producing disqualified SLC graduates.

    So this project will help in reducing cheating in exams, creating pressure to promote better performance of teachers, improve monitoring from parents and stakeholders about their childrens educational quality. This will lead to students development of their reading and analytical skills instead of copying and cheating. With our regular interaction with district level stakeholders for S.L.C. exam committees, we will also help local stakeholders assess present policies and its implementation mechanisms.

    Study Area/Proposed Project Location
    The proposed project is intended to be implemented in Parsa District, in 82 VDCs and one Sub Metropolitan city.

    Target group
    • 48 community schools from Parsa district
    • Students from grade 8, 9 and 10

    Goals and objectives
    • To increase meaningful community participation to monitor performance of teachers and government officials.
    • To enable students to develop reading competencies than cheating in exams.
    • To support the strengthening of the local governments management system for conducting the S.L.C. exam.
    • To create pressure on government education officials, school management and teachers to review existing policy and gaps on program implementations.

    Previous attempts by different stakeholders in proposed project location
    The government of Nepal has been forming S.L.C. Examination Conduction Committee before the exam in leadership of the Chief District Officer with participation of major key stakeholders like the police, major political parties, media, etc in each district annually. The objective of forming this committee is to conduct the S.L.C. exam in a peaceful and fair manner in the districts. In addition, orientation to the superintendents and security heads on their rights and duty of each examination centers also takes place at the district level. Similarly, security forces are also trained before being sent to the centers by their line managers. Each superintendent conducts orientation sessions on examination code of conduct and about their duty to keep S.L.C. exams fair to the invigilators and security staff. The superintendent also conducts a brief orientation on the code of conduct to be obeyed by the examinee and involved human resources within the examination hall as well as the premises.

    Existing Gaps

    Bikash Nepal has identified the existing misconception about receiving a certificate than gaining knowledge and skills by students as the main problem for the cheating problem in the whole Tarai belt. Many children who cheat in exams are seen to come from poor learning performance especially in English, Math and Science. This is because of the lack of good quality education from the start with teachers not doing their job well. The school administration also does not do a good job in monitoring teachers who don’t teach well. Teachers then take undue advantage of the Liberal Promotion Policy and promote weak students to higher grades but this adversely affects students in nationalized exams like the S.L.C. exam. Another reason for cheating in S.L.C. is that if schools get less than 33% result in S.L.C. then they can be punished by DOE/MOE. In the case of private schools, they want to have good results in S.L.C. as it is better for their business. If more students pass in distinction or first division, then more parents will be attracted towards enrolling their children in those schools. Therefore teachers and school management of both public and private schools are involved in cheating than the maintaining discipline in the S.L.C. exam. Most students and parents value getting a certificate than learning as they are unaware about the increasing tough competition of the job market.

    Even though cheating is such a big problem in Parsa district, no one is working on this specific subject. Our project will fill this gap and will also work with teachers and other stakeholders to review current implementation mechanism of LPP, CAS and related policies, which is also not being done currently.

    Problems that the Project Seeks to Address
    The increasing cheating trend in exams is the main problem this project seeks to focus on. Students are using wrong strategy to pass exams and are receiving certificates without knowledge. This project seeks to work with students, teachers, management committees

    Plan of Action

    1. Increase Awareness of stakeholders on the consequences of receiving a certificate without learning ability
    Conduct awareness campaigns on the consequences of receiving certificate without learning ability through orientation will be conducted in all 48 community schools in Parsa district with the participation of teachers, SMC/PTA, parents and students. A code of conduct on conducting fair final examination will be developed and placed in each school by the participants. Parents will know about the importance of improving quality education to get better results and will be more active in monitoring teachers and school management about improving the quality of their childrens education to produce compitetive graduates.

    2. Regular Interaction with Parsa S.L.C. Examination Conduction Committee
    The government of Nepal forms the S.L.C. Examination Conduction Committee before the S.L.C. exam in leadership of the Chief District Officer with participation of major key stakeholders like the police, major political parties, media, etc in each district annually. Bikash Nepal will interact regularly with this team and its stakeholders to ensure fair examinations.

    3. Interactions with teachers and teachers unions
    There will be one interaction with teachers and teachers unions about how they can improve their role in improving educational quality at public schools and how to minimize cheating for the coming year. The interactions with teachers will also focus on the LPP policy and how they can implement the CAS system in thier classes to better monitor students learning throughout the year and help them towards doing well in their final exams.

    4. Support students to achieve their career goal
    District level TOT on Career counseling will be organized with training/workshop for NGO personnel and 1 selected teacher from each of the 48 schools. Once teachers are trained for career counseling, they can incorporate this in the school for students from grade 8, 9 and 10 every year. The trained human resources will organize Career workshop for students of grade 8 and 9 in each school. Likewise, Career planning counseling for the grade 10 students will be organized in all 48 community schools. The monitoring of the career counseling program will be organized by Bikash Nepal.

    5. Interaction programs between S.L.C. Examination Conduction Committee and exam centers and stakeholders
    Bikash Nepal will facilitate interaction programs between S.L.C examination conduction committee and exam centers right before the SLC exam so that the rules and regulations are understood and strict measures are taken towards fair examination. Stakeholders from the exam center areas will also participate.

    6. Improve monitoring during S.L.C exam in all Exam centers and Reporting
    Bikash Nepal along with educational stakeholders will monitor the S.L.C. exam centers in Parsa district from the outside and will collect information on cheating cases in each exam center. Bikash Nepal will document such cases from each center. This documentation will be a basis for discussions in the future with different educational stakeholders in Parsa district and will help in showing the real picture of cheating in the area and to also come up with solutions to stop cheating the next time around. The findings of the project will be disseminated in national level too.

    Outcomes/Impacts

    • Motivate students towards improving education than cheating through their career development plan.
    • Support S.L.C. examination conduction by through aware and sensitized stakeholders.
    • Reduce cases of cheating, disruption and violence in the S.L.C. centers in Parsa district.
    • Improve the quality of examination and increase pass percentage in S.L.C. examination.
    • Help students make realistic future plans through career counseling
    • Help education officials, school management and teachers to review their own working methodology and gaps in policies

    Note: The project has helped District Education Office (DEO) Parsa and SLC Examination Conduction Committee a lot in the SLC Exam recently held in 2011. It has reduced the cheating trend in SLC Exam in Parsa district.

    Nasim Sarwar
    Project Coordinator
    Reducing Cheating Trend in Parsa District

    • Rama Mathew

      To Nasim Sarwar
      Project Coordinator
      Reducing Cheating Trend in Parsa District

      I read your comment with interest particularly about the project you have outlined. I’m writing an article for a Compendium on Assessing ESL in South Asia which includes countries such as Nepal, India etc. I would like to know if you have more information on the project and a source I can quote from. Personally as a student of assessment myself, I am interested in how you go about the project and what you will find.

      I will be grateful for any other information/sources of reference etc.
      Regards.
      Rama Mathew(Ms.)
      Professor, Department of Education
      Delhi University, Delhi

  • Dear Sajan, you have done a great work on the interview of Prof. Khaniya. But your titling it reminded me of my own title “Do you mean what you ask, Mr. Examiner? …”which I had given to my article in the journal of NELTA Volume 7, No. 1 & 2 December 2002 page no. 72-77 and this was a revised version of the paper I had presented in the Eighth NELTA Conference from February 24-26, 2001. I cannot call it a mere coincidence as there is a gap of 10 years and you were doing your M.Ed around that time (I remember this because you were the batch I had started teaching in TU in English Education Department).Sorry, I just smacked of a plagiarism in the way you titled this interview and plagiarism is what every academician should try to avoid. Sorry to be lecturing even after a decade that you have been out of my class and established yourself so well in the field of ELT in Nepal as an upcoming ELTer. I just felt like reminding you and the reader.

  • Respected Lekhnath Pathak Sir

    Thank you very much for your comment-whatever it is. I do remember you taught me and I often appreciate your way of delivery and spirit in the profession of ELT. I also remember reading your article in NELTA journal long back. But I seem to have forgotten totally what you advocated there and what your title exactly was.

    A very serious blame that the title of the interview with Professor Khaniya “Mr. Test Writer, Does your Test Really Test what it should Test?” is an act of plagiarism is utterly baseless. If you have gone through the content of the interview, Professor Khaniya finds test writers responsible for all ills in testing in Nepal. Therefore, the title of the article is mere reflection of what Professor Khaniya has observed. It has nothing to do with your write up the way your accusation senses. Neither the title, nor the content of the interview tally anyway with your article. My orientation and my personal ethics never allow me to go for cheap popularity via plagiarism as you seem to have blamed.

    On the one hand, the title of your article and the title of the interview are different to a great extent, not only in terms of words but also in terms of content or message, upon scrutiny. On the other hand, I have come across many works by different authors having same titles. If two works have the same title, the second cannot be called an act of plagiarism even by its definition only because they have same words or phrases. I think plagiarism is more related to reproduction of contents of the work.

    Therefore, I request you never to doubt at all that your student (Sajan) has followed the track (wrong one) that you never directed him.

    Sajan Karn

  • Dear Sajan,
    I’m extremely sorry, if I hurt you with my comment. My intention was never that. And I hate to sound like a teacher scolding his old student, who has made such a name in the ELT profession and made him proud.
    Actually, it was when I read this interview and the title, it was in a flash that what I write came to my mind. After I wrote this I had a misgivings whether I should really post it. And since you and Ghanashaym, Prem are in the editorial board, I had felt that it will get discussed amongst us before it gets published. Well, things don’t work the way you visualize and when things slip off, it may take the turns you don’t even imagine it will.
    Sajan, since it has already come up publicly, I feel we have to handle it publicly and let it form an academic debate about plagiarism. Let’s forget about now who is right and who is wrong. we can have long discourse on it and we can both quote sources and write up to prove ourselves and that will not serve any purpose and it will only give an opportunity to the people out there to simply watch our “quarrel” and take pick on us and take different sides. There will be people who will support and who will support me.I don’t want this issue to get that far. And the Choutari forum should be allowed to remain quite academic and not drag personal issues into it. I take the blame on myself for having started it and I would like to end it here. I don’t want when readers comment on our counter comments, they become judgmental.
    I understand the fact very well that people will always have parallel standing and parallel thoughts and it’s not surprising that similar wordings crop up in the mind when you are dealing with similar thoughts.However, this should not give us any reason to justify plagiarism, we should fight against it. Because concepts and ideas are the only things which drive academics and right people should get the eight credit and we should ensure that we do not et wrong people take the credit for what others have done. It’s a crime.
    Allow me to narrate a personal episode of mine, why I don’t tolerate plagiarism (As a student also right from my school days, even when I saw my friends cheating, I never got drawn or tempted to it. I used to tell, everyone that even if the examiner gave me ready made answers in the exam hall to copy from and gave me full freedom to write,I wouldn’t , not just because of my sense of honesty but also from practicality, I wouldn;t be able to answer all the questions if I copied from another sheet. I could do that only if wrote on my own. And I trusted myself). The incident that I want to recount here is when I was in my Bachelor first year doing my honours in English in India. I grew up reading voraciously and among them used to be Readers’ Digest also on a regular basis. I had read an article in one of the issues of Readers’ Digest titled as “Why Smart People Do Dumb Things?” by Suzane Chazin and another article was a discussion on the signification of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”. Both these write-ups had touched me very much and what I had read was playing in my mind for a long time. After three months of my reading of these Readers’ Digest materials, I read a personality column in “Competition Refresher” another magazine which I used to read regularly. It was published from New Delhi. The personality column was written by a professor of International Politics from Jawaharlal University, Delhi. As I kept reading the column everything appeared so familiar to me and as I was reading my mind was telling me I have read this before and by the time I finished, I knew where I had read it. This professor had taken entire material for his column from the two articles I told of before.He had mixed both the write-ups and passed it as his own. I got very angry to find a professor of such a renowned university doing such a cheap thing! and I wrote a letter to the editor of Competition Refresher quoting the texts which were lifted directly from the two issues of RD. The readers’ responses were published after three months. The editor did not publish my letter but put my name among many others who had appreciated the column! This left such an impression in my mind that Iwould go mad if I find anybody doing that kind of thing.
    This episode may or may not have any link with our conversation is another thing. But we should be watchful of such things in our field. Because when our ideas are stolen without acknowledging, that’s bad but when they are stolen and acknowledged of theft it’s good. PhDs are all after all theft from what others have done. Only thing is the thief tells everyone, where he stole the ideas from!
    Sajan, I am really proud of you for all the contribution that you have made in ELT in Nepal. And I know it very well that my student Sajan will never follow the path I have not directed him and also assure you as well that your teacher (me) also will not try to follow the path that he has not directed his student and also will learn to be a bit more tolerant and control the temper.
    The south eastern part of Nepal called Birgunj has become an ELT pilgrimage because of your efforts only. We all in NELTA take pride in that and acknowledge your efforts.
    Once again I would like to apologize for any misgivings it has created and also would urge you to take up the issue of plagiarism seriously. For us academicians plagiarism is what piracy is to music. Both are volition of copyrights.
    Sorry readers! if you got entangled into a teacher-student repartee. Let’s mind our own business.
    Happy ELTing and refreshing Choutaring!

  • Jemimiah

    Amidst much fanfare a distinction award program was held in Makwanpur district. I was disappointed and did not feel like attending because my students who performed well in earlier exams did not score good marks . They were either disappointed that they did not get a distinction or were disappointed at the marks they scored. The award ceremony further disappointed me when i heard that students who were not good performers somehow managed to get a distinction.

    One year of relentless practice ,desks full of guess papers, rote learning, and then a Distinction award…..Is that all we teachers work for? And does a school’s reputation depend on just the so called SLC results? Does a distinction in the SLC guarantee a successful life ahead?

    The interview has thrown light on the area of testing and i am hopeful that Prof. Khaniya and his team can bring about some changes in the way our system handles tests, the way it is conducted and the way it is marked, not just language testing but all of the other learning areas as well.

    Our perspective must change. We need to mould students not for school but for life. If our educational leaders can work together and come up with something feasible the country would benefit .

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