All University affiliates should adhere to academic linchpins: on-time exams, results and fair formative assessments

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Dr. Tulsiram Bhandari, who is a versatile enthusiast with high vigor for embracing achievements, is the Controller of Examinations of Pokhara University. His commitment for maintaining the academic calendar for conducing on-time examinations is highly commendable. 

Dr. Bhandari shares his view with College Readers. Excerpts:

Pokhara University has been conducting both the exams: final (summative assessment) and internal evaluation (formative assessment) effectively. What are your further plans that would make the examination system more effective and more reliable?

Pokhara University has successfully completed its 25 glorious years by celebrating its Silver Jubilee. The University is the pioneer to introduce a semester-based education in Nepal. The model has already been practiced in American and European system. At present, we offer a semester and trimester evaluation system which is unique and outstanding; however, we are working on improving it based on global scenarios. The dean office of TU and other universities are actively working on to systematize it. Our target is to decentralize the power and authority, but due to lack of experienced faculty we have been facing acute challenges to implement it.

The semester system itself is a maiden model of evaluation system in Nepal. In spite of this, reliance on annual or semester system may not wisely assess the overall performance of students. If a student could not perform well during the given 3 hrs. time, his/her evaluation would not be properly measured. What further plans have you made in order to assess the actual performance of students?

The semester system evaluation is the advanced and best evaluation system. Although it is not a defective model we have come across many challenges to systematize and conducted due to lack of experienced and fulltime faculty. 

The current evaluation model incorporates 50% marks through internal assessment in Bachelor and 60% in Master’s level. The concerned subject teachers are fully authorized to provide marks through internal assessments. So, it is a regular evaluation system. In addition, the rest of marks is provided through external evaluation system (exams) conducted by the University. In fact, we are confident that the university has been conducting external (board) exams effectively and fairly. However, some essential frameworks should be made in order to ensure that internal evaluation is done equitably and scientifically. The respective colleges should recruit qualified and diligent full-time faculty and train them with globally acclaimed pedagogy and teaching methodologies. 

Globally, there are two types of evaluation system: formative and summative in which internal evaluation is called formative assessment which starts from the very first day of an enrollee whereas the final examinations are called summative assessment, which the University conducts. In this regard, Pokhara University practices both the evaluation methods. 

Most Nepalese Universities do not seem to maintain the annual academic calendar responsibly. How has Pokhara University maintained its annual academic calendar?

Completing the course, conducting exams and publishing results in time are the responsibilities of the University that are based on its annual academic calendar. Therefore, it is important to prepare a scientific and robust academic calendar by the University which should urge all its constituent and affiliated colleges to follow all the events responsibly and scrupulously. In my perspectives, not only Pokhara University but all Nepalese Universities and the office of the Dean should prepare and implement the academic calendar effectively for the assurance of systemized education system.

Could you please tell us about the number of graduates from your University till the date and acknowledge their performance in the global market?

Every year, as many as 5000 graduates participate in the convocation ceremony from bachelor and master’s levels. Last year, we conducted a convocation in two years due to the pandemic that witnessed more than 11000 graduates who celebrated their heyday along with the acquisition of graduation certificates. As per the data, around 70% graduates participated in the convocation. In this regard, we can proclaim that as many as 7-8 thousand graduands succeed in completing their graduation from the University annually. The number of enrollees is also nearly the same. Pokhara University can accommodate around 10300 students.

How would you address the predicament of dropout rate and relish the achievements of the graduates of Pokhara University? 

Our estimation shows that around 10-15% of enrollees drop out of different programs of the University every year. Some of them go to foreign swathes for higher studies and some join other universities due to geographical and financial reasons. The figure shows that the highest dropout rate is from the Engineering faculty in comparison to other faculties. While analyzing the pass out rate, we find varied figures in different faculties. The pass out rate of Health Science graduates is more than 90%, management 80%, and engineering 25-30%. The pass out ratio of Humanities and Social Sciences is also satisfactory.

What could be the reasons for a high dropout rate of the engineering faculty?

It’s better to consult the concerned authorities, but as far as I know, there are some drawbacks in Nepalese education system that has triggered the dropout ratio. Nevertheless, the question pattern and evaluation systems are the reasons for the surging dropout rate in Nepal. 

What message would you like to convey to the Pokhara University associates as the Exam Controller?

Everyone wants to secure a convincing score through the final examinations which are backed by formative assessment system. At the end of the year, the acquisition of an appealing certificate is the linchpin for every graduate. In this regard, we should show our utmost honesty and fair conduct of both internal and external assessments, which is possible only when the University and its associates make a combined effort. So, let’s embark on achieving a common goal.

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