KATHMANDU, Nov 30
Salma and her little sis in Gorkha
The government´s current success in enrolling children to school or making the non-formal education more effective would have never materialized had it shunned native languages from curriculum.
According to the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC), the government has developed education materials in 23 languages aimed at primary and lower secondary levels of community schools. The Non-Formal Education Center has also developed its curriculum in 14 languages and implemented in various parts of the country.
In a country with over 92 castes and ethnic groups and 101 languages in use, the multilingual education can foster understanding among communities that speak different languages and bring positive outcome in the future.
“The curriculum merges both local and international language at schools, allowing education system to create environment for adopting federalism,” says Ganesh Bhattarai, deputy director at the CDC.
Local schools are authorized to develop and include the curriculum that reflects their language and cultural values, mentioned Bhattarai. “The CDC helps local schools to develop such course of studies and we are still in the process of developing curriculum in more languages.”
Currently, the government allows two types of practice to connect the student with their language and culture through course of study. The schools have already been authorized to include curriculum based on mother language and cultural practices. The CDC started working on multi-language since 1992 but the curriculum-related to folk practices such as farming pattern, culture and tradition began in 2005.
As for the textbook content to be used in future, the CDC Officer Bhattarai said that it would be easier if the National Curriculum Network, at the central level, guides the education mechanism of the separate states.
The Department of Education (DoE) officials also agreed on Bhattarai´s point. DoE Director Tek Narayan Pandey said, “The central government should be a decision-maker on school education policy and higher education. State government should look after secondary level education, while central government can take the responsibility of all basics of education.”
As all the political parties that participated in the second CA poll have common agendas related to federal set up, free education up to secondary level, establishing at least one university in each state, and prioritizing technical and vocational education, it should not be difficult to shape the education mechanisms, officials said.
Regardless of any form of state restructuring that the second CA approves, the education system can be shaped in the same form, argues educationist Vidya Nath Koirala.
“There is no defect in adopting federalism on the basis of any caste, culture or geography, but the problem lies in people´s mentality of regional boundary,” Koirala stated. “People of all castes have some best practices that is hidden to world. Thus, education should be the means to dismantle the regional boundary first.”
The monk in a monastery of Mustang should be informed about the climate change or politics no matter in what language he learns it, he said.
In an attempt to strengthen country´s education quality in future, the UNESCO-Nepal has already started the strategic contribution for long term structural transformation in education sector in the federal Nepal running two years project on planning effective delivery of education in a federal state.
The models, plans and coordination mechanisms to enhance the capacity of the government bodies for planning, implementation and monitoring the restructuring of the education system are among its support for the government.
The project also aims at running programs at national and local levels on various issues that needed to be addressed while discussing education in a federal system such as cost of education system and resource transfers, teachers´ training, responsibilities related to curriculum development, architecture of the governance structure, staffing and recruitment of qualified teachers, and issues related to oversight and accountability.
Language teachers need to be prepared
To ensure multilingual course of study in schools, the community schools cannot appoint a separate language teacher till now. Rather the subject teachers in the schools are given additional task for teaching language, says CDC Deputy Director Bhattarai.
With the formation of federal state, the local government is likely to fall short of language teachers as the demand will be high if all the states include the local language in the course of study, he added.
“For now the sufficient manpower has not been prepared for future to institutionalize the native language in schools,” he added.