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Two dozens valley-community schools shut as student enrollment drops to zero



The deterioration of community schools in the Valley has now become visible, with the number of students plunging to zero at some two dozen such schools within two years. Most of these schools were located in the Valley outskirts.

Community schools, which are considered the backbone of the free education system, are gradually loosing students for various reasons, a lack of quality teachers due to politicization of their appointment being the most serious.

According to data available at the District Education Office (DEO) in Kathmandu, four schools have unofficially shut following lack of students interested in studying at those schools.

The schools, including Nandi Ganesh Secondary School at Mata Tirtha, Ban Devi Primary School at Thankot, Chundevi Primary School at Bhim Dhunga and Vidashram Primary School, Kirtipur, have closed during the ongoing academic year as student enrollment dropped to nil, said Kathmandu District Education Officer Baikuntha Aryal.

“The capital has seen 10 school closures in two years including six closed last academic year, and 50 primary schools with less than 20 students are also on the verge of closure,” informed Aryal.

“Student enrollment at the schools has declined due to the irregular presence of teachers as the schools become platforms for power plays by the various political parties,” Aryal added.

Out of the total of 1,463 schools in the district, 1,167 are private and boarding schools and 296 are community schools.

Similarly, eight schools closed in Lalitpur during the last academic session.

The scenario is no different in Bhaktapur, where six schools closed this academic session.

Similarly, 34 community schools in the district have student enrollment of less than 30, including 14 schools which have 10 or less students.

Nateshor Lower Secondary School, Bal Bodh Shanti Lower Secondary School, Chandeshori Lower Secondary School, Krishna Primary School, Dakshinkali Primary School and Manakamana Primary Schools have closed.

“The DEOs of all three districts in the Valley have stopped issuing permissions for opening new schools and we are in a wait and see mood when it comes to the merge modality,” said Deepak Kafle, District Education Officer of Bhaktapur.

The DEO has deployed one teacher in each closed school as a caretaker to assist the early childhood development centers running there. There are 337 schools in Bhaktapur, including 137 community schools.

The situation could worsen in the next few years if the government does not come up with an aggressive plan to improve the overall quality and structure of community schools so that they will attract students again.

“Is it government policy to include only the private sector in the education system and fully commercialize the entire system through privatization?” asked educationist Mana Prasad Wagle, adding “If this continues, there would be just a handful of community schools left in the Valley within 10 years.”

According to Wagle, the teachers are most responsible for the failing of community schools. These school saw just 36 percent passes in the SLC exams last year compared to the overall rate of 47percent.

“Teachers currently in work need to be short-listed as per their competence and mandatory retirement should be given to those who are incompetent,” said Wagle. “World-wide research shows that teachers are responsible for students´ failure to learn in 69 percent of cases and only 31 percent is the effect of poor infrastructure.”

Source: Republica DailyLink:
Published on 2012-10-11 06:00:14

About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

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