By Mallika Aryal
Kathmandu, Nepal – It is 6 a.m. in Kavresthali, a small village nearly 10 kilometres north from the city centre and 16-year-old Ranjita Bhandari has been up for over an hour. She is dressed in her school uniform – neat blue shirt with a navy blue pullover, a striped tie, a pleated navy blue skirt, black leggings and polished black shoes. She has tied her long thick hair away form her face. She is standing nervously outside her house, a small hut made of tin and tarpaulin.
Ranjita is appearing for the School Leaving Certificate, a national-level examinations all tenth graders in Nepal have to take before they graduate to the last two years of high school. This year, over 600,000 children all over Nepal are appearing for the SLC examinations, often called the ‘iron gate’.