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Compulsory school education program in doldrums



Delay in amending the Education Act has affected several programs of the education sector, including a major plan to implement compulsory education at public schools in 13 districts.

The Department of Education (DoE) had announced to implement compulsory education in 13 districts from the new academic session that starts in April, immediately after the government announced the budget for the current fiscal year in mid-July, but the plan so far remains limited to paper. 

Nagarkot-based community school is seen in the background while the students meant to be attending class are playing outdoors. Although the student enrollment rate in grade one is 95.3%, seven percent of them drop out before they reach grade two. (Republica)

The new rule on mandatory education is aimed to achieving cent percent universal basic education by the end of 2015 to meet a key Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target at a time when the net enrollment rate at grade one stands at 95.3 percent. A flash report prepared by the government last year also states that the dropout rate at primary schools has not improved much.

Stuck at the President´s Office following the dissolution of the first Constituent Assembly on May 28, 2013, the draft of the act has just been forwarded to parliament, said DoE Director General Lav Dev Awasthi. 

The new act is to come into effect from the new academic session in Dhankuta, Saptari, Manang, Dolpa, Kapilvastu, Parsa, Rupandehi, Mustang, Bardiya, Dadeldhura and Kanchanpur as a pilot project. “We have to see the result in these districts before expanding the program to more districts,” Awasthi added. 
As a lead up to the enforcement of the act, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has already announced to prohibit those guardians from social security allowances if they defy the new rule.

According to MoE Spokesperson Mahashram Sharma, the ministry earlier coordinated with the Ministry of Local Development and Federal Affairs to restrict the individual´s access to old age allowance and single women allowance. 

Similarly, an individual would also be prohibited from soft loans of less than 2 percent interest rate if he or she does not send children to school. 

Guardians still unaware of the proposed law
Even if parliament amended the act soon, the DoE has another challenge to implement the compulsory education in the pre-announced places. 

A massive awareness program is required to make people aware that the government´s plan to restrict guardians who do not send their children to schools is intended for their own benefit in the long run, admit the officials.

Though the DoE and the Local Development Ministry have agreed to work collaboratively on spreading awareness, the campaign has not begun yet. 

DoE plans to implement compulsory education in 75 districts by 2015 end 

DoE Director General Lav Dev Awasthi

Ques- What are the basic facilities the government would ensure to students after implementing compulsory education?

Ans- We will continue to provide the textbooks free of cost. The next step would be focus on ensuring that the students receive the textbooks on time. 
Similarly, the government is planning to expand its day tiffin program to more districts in two ways. The students would either be provided lunch at school or given the certain amount for lunch. Currently, 40 percent of Nepali children are suffering from malnutrition. The tiffin program encourages the guardians and students to have the homemade nutritious diet so that the growing children do not get into junk foods.

During my recent interaction with the locals in the Tarai districts, I found that more guardians from the marginalized communities would send their children to schools if we expand the day tiffin program. The door-to-door campaign that we have been launching for two weeks at the beginning of the new academic session would be given continuity. Ending the dropout rate will be another major priority.

Ques- Most of the children deprived of education belong to the communities which are subjected to multiple exclusions. How would the government tackle the challenges stemming for the prohibition of social security allowances to such guardians who might defy the new law?

Ans- Had the political parties shown interest in implementing compulsory education as they had mentioned in their electoral manifestoes for the CA election held in 2008, things would have been easier. Still, we are quite hopeful that the guardians will send their children to schools before we punish them.

To address the needs of the marginalized communities, education in mother language is also being implemented. Several NGOs and INGOs are also working with us to increase the coverage of children living under multiple exclusions. The problem pertaining to Raute parents´ reluctance to send their children to schools, the issues of street children as well as the problem of the deprived groups will also be handled effectively.




Source- Republica Daily


Published on 2014-02-17 06:15:25

About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

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