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Karnali of the Kathmandu Valley

NIRJANA SHARMA

Not a single student gets through this year´s SLC exams from a community school in Lalitpur. Who is primarily responsible for the fiasco?

KATHMANDU, June 20

Dudha Raj Lama´s heartbeat began to race and he started biting his nails just as the clock struck 4 in the afternoon on last Friday – the moment Office of the Controller of Examination (OCE) released the SLC result through websites, SMS and telephone services.

Shortly, misgivings of this head master of Chandeshori Secondary School in Pyutar VDC of Lalitpur, became a reality. All 21 examinees from his school had failed to make it through the “iron gate of life”.

Although located in Lalitpur, Pyutar is considered Karnali of the Kathmandu Valley due to its remoteness.

It takes hours of ride through the bumpy road half the way to Pyutar, and several hours of uphill trek to reach the village. As a bridge is still under construction at the Khani Khola, the locals also have to risk their life every now and then to crossing the stream at the Bhattedanda.

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Schools students on their way to a public school at Naubishe of Dhading districts in this file photo. Public schools have not been able to fare well despite a huge sum injected into the education sector over the years.( REPUBLICA FILE/ BIKASH KARKI)

Chandeshori Secondary School eventually turned out to be the only community school based in the three districts of the valley – Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur — to produce nil result in the SLC exams. All the students, including six more from the exempted category, failed in Mathematics in this small village named Simle in Pyutar VDC-4 where 100 percent of the households belong to the indigenous Tamang community with lower economic status, compared to other communities residing in the outskirts of the Valley.

Thirteen students who have failed two subjects are to appear for the supplementary exams in August whereas the remaining ones will have to wait for the second attempt next year.

The students, however, cannot be held primarily responsible for the failure.

For instance, we can take the case of Rabi Syantang, one of the students who could not clear the SLC exams.

He had dropped out from the school several years ago as there were not further lower secondary classes available there.

However, driven by his passion for education, he returned to the school two years ago, at the age of 22, and got admission at grade 8 following some tests.

Since then he proved to be a good student and the inspiration for the villagers.

” Syangtang´s failure pains me more than the others´. He is our pride,” says Lama. The headmaster admires him for his dedication to studies as he returned to complete school education even after a gap of a decade.

He had worked as a conductor and then a driver of microbuses in Kathmandu after he dropped out. Though the student performed average to meet the pass marks during the pre-test, he could not pass the SLC exams.

Is the school management responsible for the fiasco then?

Lama holds the government primarily responsible for the mess. In a clear indication of the state´s apathy toward the local Tamang community, the primary school established back in 1971 waited for 35 years to get the status of lower secondary. The locals were quite upbeat when the school got the secondary level status three years ago.

But they were soon disappointed after neither the Department of Education (DoE) nor the Lalitpur District Education Office (DEO) have arranged any secondary level teacher for the school despite upgrading its status.

“No seat has been created for any subject teachers at the secondary level,” Lama complains. “We have hired whoever we found the best among the locals interested in teaching. That´s how we are running the classes.”

“Had the government arranged permanent teachers for the school, the story could have been different today,” he laments.

The result of the district level exams in grade 8 was equally worrisome this year when no students could clear Mathematics.

Again, it is not that the school authority did not try its best to hire good teachers, but the DEO and the DoE is yet to reply to their request to create positions for teachers.

No wonder that the guardians of 143 students studying in the school are worried about the future of their children.

They are particularly anxious now since the results were not as depressing in the past two years as a few students had managed to clear the board exams.

Among 15 students, nine had passed under the regular category and six had passed in the second attempt in the supplementary exam last year.

Apart from schools´ lack of resources for better teaching, the social dynamics of the community is also pulling the education graph behind.

Let´s take a case. The school authority had also high expectations from Suntali Maya Bal, who had enrolled in grade one, did well till the 10th grade.

However, the best student among both girls and boys, Suntali fell prey to the social design.

She dropped out from the school just few months before the SLC exams to get married with the local Tamang youth who had just returned from a Gulf country where he worked as a migrant worker.

In the case of failure and the drop out ratio of girls, Chandeshori School is just like hundreds of other public schools across the country that fall short of resources, subject teachers and minimum attention from the government despite its investment.

However, not all schools have failed for genuine reasons and the micro level inspection behind each and every of them is necessary, says educationist Basidev Kafle.

“Identifying the reason behind the individual failure is important as each student is special,” he adds.

Across the country, 331 schools, including 50 private schools, have produced zero result in this year´s SLC exams. Seven schools, including six private schools, produced zero result in the Kathmandu Valley itself.

While the DoE has already announced to initiate action against the teachers and headmasters of schools with zero results, Lama mentions that he, along with his teachers are ready to face any action but expects the authority to respond to the basic problems they are facing.

DoE Director General (DG) Lav Dev Awasthi has already admitted the failure of government´s strategy to increase students´ pass rate.

The students of Pyutar have begun the preparation for supplementary exams with this question: who is primarily responsible for the pathetic condition we are in?

Source- Republica Daily

Link- http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=77474

Published on 2014-06-21 15:10:14
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About nirjanasharma

Journalist.

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