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Violence disrupts examinations


Escalating Maoist violence in remote regions of Nepal has forced the government to reduce by a quarter the number of examination centres it can open for school-leaving certificate exams.

The exams, to be held in March and April, will now only take place in buildings with high levels of security.

Approximately 150,000 16-year-olds are expected to sit the exam, traditionally regarded as the "iron gate" of education in Nepal. Attainment of a first-class pass is normally regarded as the minimum requirement of a good job or entry to higher education.

Recent reports by the World Bank and government agencies indicate that less than 5 per cent of children who enrol in primary school ever take the certificate. The closure of exam centres may deter many more from travelling through dangerous areas and exacerbate growing concern over the number of children who are not being educated.

Those teenagers who are determined to travel to take the exam will face logistical problems. Remoter areas of Nepal can offer little in the way of hotel accommodation or food.

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