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Hard choices await govt funded schools: perform or face merger



After it drew flak from many quarters over declining pass rate in SLC exams in recent years, the government in 2013 issued a raft of measures to make all stakeholders related to the country´s education system accountable.

However, a long obstruction in the mid academic session because of the Constituent Assembly election has fueled speculation that results in 2014 many not be any better.

The SLC result slipped 26 percent in four years, from 68.47 percent in 2009 to 41.57 percent in 2013, making mockery of the government´s School Sector Reform Program (SSRP) that had estimated to achieve around 69 percent pass rate in 2013.

The poor show in 2013 was a humiliating experience for the government and the private sector whose joint spending on education had totaled Rs 555 billion in the period between 2003 and 2013. Over the decade, the private academic sector invested a total of Rs 100 billion, whereas the government spent Rs 455 billion.

Embarrased by the weak results, the Ministry of Education (MoE) on June 21 issued a 23 points directive to regulate the schools and teachers under it.
Among the total examinees who appeared in the SLC 2013, 78 percent came from community schools, whereas only 24 percent belonged to the private sector.

The outcome, however, was reverse as 80 percent of the total students who appeared from the private institutions made it through, while only 30 percent of those who came from public schools could pass the exam.

The result was also in stark contradiction from the governments´ own projection announced in 1998 that the SLC result would touch 100 percent pass rate by 2012.
The MoE issued measures were recommended by a committee formed to suggest immediate measures to ensure progress in future.

The first priority of the policy was to make sure that teachers are available in the classrooms when the schools are open.

However, the teachers remained busy somewhere else rather than in the classroom.

A regular obstruction caused by the anti-poll groups two weeks before November 19 poll, took toll on the millions of students across the country. The private and community schools remained open following the MoE decision, but neither teachers nor student could attend the class.

On the one hand, the guardians scared by a series of bomb blasts refrained from sending their children to schools. On the other hand, unavailability of teachers also disappointed those who reached school despite all the hurdles.

Though the 23-point directive made it mandatory for the teachers to be present in schools, it did not explicitly bar then from participating in electoral campaigns.
“The political parties mobilized teachers for both poll publicity and against the poll, whereas students´ concerns were forgotten completely,” says Padam Pandey, treasurer of the Nepal Teachers Union (NTU).

From voter education campaigners to election officers at poll booths, teachers from local schools across the country were mobilized by the election commission, according to the officials at the Election Education and Information Center (EEIC).

“Teachers involvement was indispensable in the election activities as they are the educated group familiar to a particular locality and capable of convincing the voters about the entire process,” says Komal Dhamala, executive director at the EEIC.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education (DoE) is yet to ascertain the total number of school days halted due to various reasons this session.
Like many other provisions in the directive, reward and punishment system for the teachers also remained unimplemented, agrees the Kathmandu District Education Officer (DEO) Baikuntha Aryal.

Similarly, an implementation of the requirement to submit a self-evaluation report to the DEO also remained week, whereas the much-needed focus on weak students of grade 10 as per their three months evaluation, too, remained ineffective.

“Regular classes and its reflection in the yearly result, this is all that the students and guardians want reflected in the long run. But this is still too much to expect from public schools since as no visible change has been seen yet,” says Educationist Vidya Nath Koirala.

The tendency to remain irresponsible has faded the charm of community schools.
While the schools receiving government´s support has been continuously failing to prove their worth, its impact has been felt on the students´ enrollment.

Following the continued decline in student enrollment, the government in the first week of December endorsed the school merger policy so that schools that have been performing poorly or facing decline in enrollment could be merged with better schools.

Hundreds of public schools with poor enrollment will be merged from the next session. The government has also introduced slight changes in the teaching-learning process.

Source: Republica DailyLink:

Published on 2014-01-05 06:57:52

About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

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