Written by Lalit Gurung, Manager of the ISIS Children’s Foundation
I joined the ISIS family in 2007 as the Manager of the ISIS Children’s Foundation (ICF). ICF is a local Nepali non-profit organisation that was established by ISIS in 2006 as an emergency response to the rescue of 136 children from child traffickers. These children were taken from their families in Humla to Kathmandu during political unrest in Nepal and were found in Kathmandu in appalling conditions. Ever since, we have provided care for them and continue to support these children and encourage them socially and educationally.
I have seen the children grow up so much since I started with ISIS. Some of the children are back in Humla after being reintegrated with their parents. A handful of the older children have already graduated from the programme and others are taking on the world autonomously as part of the Youth Independent Living Programme. A majority of the children are boarding at local Kathmandu schools with lots of supervision and support provided by myself and the ICF team.
This week, there is a good deal of nervous excitement in Kathmandu as four of the children are preparing to take their School Leaving Certificates (SLC). The SLC is the final examination in the secondary school system of Nepal. Every student must pass this examination in order to complete the 10th grade before they join higher level education or gain employment. It is therefore the most important examination in the educational system of Nepal. This year, a total of 547,165 candidates will take the exam!
We have seen 32 ISIS children sit the SLC exam and each time is just as nerve-racking as the last. We have three boys and one girl from Kathmandu Valley School sitting their SLC this year. They have to pass eight subjects! The exam began on 14 March, and will finish on 22 March, after all the subjects are completed.
The children have been well prepared by their school for each exam. The children also received extra tutoring outside of regular school hours to ensure they were completely prepared and ready. We are confident that all four children will pass. We even anticipate a few may receive Distinctions, (above 80% in all subjects)! The ISIS family is extremely proud of these children as they have been working really hard to prepare. We have no doubt they will shine!
The SLC examination has been nicknamed the “iron gate” by students in Nepal due to its difficulty and importance. As such, it is very stressful for the children. As guardians of these children, we are conscious of the pressure and tension they are under, and so we are regularly visiting their subject teachers and the children themselves to ensure all is going well. Earlier this week, we had lunch with them to see how they were feeling about the exam. We had a long chat and they seemed relaxed and confident, which is great sign!
The SLC represents much more than grades and performance. It represents a time in the lives of these children when they will graduate from high school and enter a new stage in their personal, social, and academic lives, having built a great educational base that will prepare them for the challenges ahead. We hope one day these children can bring the knowledge they have gained back to their place of origin in Humla and build a brighter future for not only themselves but for their families and community.
We are so proud of all their hard work and wish them all the best in their exams!