80. Published: Answer Paper Blues

Answer Paper Blues
Published on the Kathmandu Post
Jan 2, 2014


The terrible moment when I’m checking the answers sheets and I’ve to struggle through incomplete answers, blank pages, spelling mistakes, dreadful handwriting… Yet I still hope the student scores just enough to pass. But, that doesn’t happen.

Then… I shake my head and console myself –

Should I feel miserable about it!

The painful moment when I’m checking the answer sheets and I get traumatized seeing this competent student turning in a crappy paper with questions unsolved and answers incomplete… And I try to reason my throbbing head. Was he under the weather that day? Or was he completely bored? Was he going through personal problems? Or did he just didn’t care?

Then… I shake my head in despair and comfort myself –

Should I bear responsibility for his action!

The annoying moment when I’m checking the answers sheets and I see the same mistake by the same student. Despite having discussed about the issue in the class for at least ten times, she makes the same error once again. May be it is on purpose. The student simply loves making me furious and frustrated. May be not. May be the student couldn’t get it through her head at all.

Then… I shake my head in disbelief and calm myself –

Should I droop down with the blame on my head!

The agonizing moment when I’m checking the answers sheets and I have to judge the students based on a three-hour written examination. There are some internal assessments (attendance, assignment, tests, portfolio), but the major assessment is always based on the final examination. May be the system is a joke. May be it only works for those students who can ‘memorize’ everything. May be.

Then… I shake my head in anguish and soothe myself –

Should I raise my feeble fist against the system!

The indecisive moment when I’m checking the answers sheets and I am crushed under the dilemma: the student is just short of five marks to pass, should I give him/her the ‘grace’ mark. I re-check the paper but I hit the deadlock. My hand freezes. I can’t decide. Did my marking instinct go wrong? And, sometimes instincts can go wrong.

Then… I shake my head down in defeat and sympathize myself –

Should I just quit!

I feel cornered by this uneasy pain and helplessness. 

I have to comply with the curriculum.
I know I just hate it but,
I have to play along with our testing and evaluation system.

The student must score 40% or above.
The universities decide it.
The ‘experts’ decide it.
The ‘commission’ decides it.

Yet, for some inexplicable reasons, I want to remain hopeful. This strange ‘hope’ is what makes my eyes glide from one word to another, from one line to another and from one answer sheet to another. And, I desperately wait for “that awesome moment” when the student completely catches me off guard and makes my day.

Surely, someday, everything will get better. Everything has to get better.


2 thoughts on “80. Published: Answer Paper Blues

  1. Umes, This was a very engaging and inspiring piece of writing. You write very well– thoughtfully, creatively… but more importantly, the content of your writing is very significant.

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