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Fate of temporary teachers hangs in balance

NIRJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, Feb 7

Gopal Koirala, a temporary teacher at Sharada Secondary School in Ramechhap, retired after 21 years of service. But rather than joy, the retirement has brought him face-to-face with host of problems because, unlike other state employees, he is not entitled to retirement benefits like gratuity, pension or provident fund.

Appointed as a temporary teacher at the Parsa-based community school, which falls under the Ministry of Education (MoE), in 1991, Koirala was asked to leave on grounds of age in 2012 when he was few months short of turning 60.

A permanent resident of Sindhuli, the retirement without pension has left Koirala dependent on the income of his two sons who are already struggling to meet the needs of the five-member family while supporting their own studies.

(Gopal Koirala, 62, (left) accompanies his fellows at the peaceful relay hunger strike in Shantibatika, Kathmandu on 51st day on Friday. After serving for 21 years, Koirala received forceful retirement empty-handed two years ago. A delay in amendment of Education Act-1971 to give permanent status and golden handshake to 17,000 provisional teachers has left their fate undecided. Photo- Nirjana Sharma)

“After receiving the departure letter, I applied for facilities bestowed on state employees upon their retirement, but the district education office asked me contact the authorities in Kathmandu for more information,” says the former English teacher.

Koirala made enquiries at the Department Civil Personnel Record, but the officials there turned him away saying that there is no such legal provision for temporary teachers like him.
Similar is the suffering of Buddhi Bahadur Rayamajhi, 63, who was one of first from his district Arghakhanchi to complete master´s degree in English. Though he began his teaching career from Durga Bhawani School, Gulmi in 1984, Rayamajhi was appointed a temporary teacher by the government in 1996 at Bhagwati Higher Secondary School, Arghakhanchi.

But he is now in dire straits because of the lack of government policy regarding retirement facilities such as pension, provident amounts, sick allowances, among others, for temporary teachers.

His six-member family is now solely dependent on the income of his wife Bijula Rayamajhi, a lower-secondary level teacher. Most of her earnings go toward the education of their three daughters and a son.

Like Koirala and Rayamajhi, many other temporary teachers have received an empty-handed retirement in the last few years.

Thousands of other teachers await the same fate but many still hope that the government will finally do justice to their labor, says Nirendra Kunwar, chairperson of the Temporary Teacher´s Struggle Committee.

Series of protests and agreements
It has been years since the temporary teachers began protest demanding permanent status or a guarantee of facilities equivalent to the permanent teachers. After a series of protests in front of MoE and the offices of major political parties, the ministry for the first time in 2011 indicated that it would begin the process to address the 15 years-old issues. As part of the effort, the ministry initiated the process of amending Education Act 1971.

In March 2012, the teachers and government penned a four-point agreement to end the indefinite padlocking of community schools. The authority had made written commitment to start the process of addressing the teachers´ woes.

The Supreme Court verdict
On February 2010, the Supreme Court had issued a ruling directing the government bodies to develop necessary laws to guarantee facilities to the temporary teachers on par with the permanent ones. Though the MoE forwarded the draft amendment of the Education Act, the verdict remains only partially implemented.

The amendment to be approved by the parliament
The government in 2011 forwarded the draft amendment to the Education Act 1971 to the parliament. But the process stalled as it was never tabled in the parliament, which was itself got dissolved with the demise of the CA on May 28, 2013.

To address the temporary teachers´ woes, the draft had made various provisions such as the automatic permanency of teachers recruited before 2008 after they pass an internal selection process; a golden handshake of Rs 100,000 to Rs 500,000, depending on the duration of their service, to those who opted voluntary retirement, among others.
The Baburam Bhattarai-led government had forwarded 13 ordinances to the President´s Office after CA dissolution, but the Education Act was not prioritized for amendment through ordinance.

If the education experts are to be believed, the MoE failed to lobby for the amendment. “The MoE failed to take strong stand,” said Educationist Mana Wagle.

What next
Of the total 26,000 temporary teachers, as many as 9,000 are likely to get permanent status through the vacancy announced last year by the Teachers´ Service Commission. However, the fate of 17,000 temporary teachers remains undecided.

At a time when the Education Regulation has said that the tenure of all temporary teachers would automatically end on April 13 this year, the last date in Nepali calendar 2070 BS, the government has no better option than amending the education regulation to continue with the provisional teachers, according to the officials at the MoE.

While the teachers´ relay hunger strike has entered its 52 days in the capital, the regulation amendment process can proceed only after the formation of a new government, said MoE Joint Secretary Khagaraj Baral.

“The provision to end the provisional teacher´s term was made with an assumption that the Teacher´s Service Commission would have appointed permanent teachers through free competition, which could not work as fast as expected,” he added.
Meanwhile, the teachers involved in the peaceful protest said they chose relay hunger strike as a medium to convey their dissatisfaction to the government as they did not want to hamper the regular classes of community schools, said the struggle committee Chairman Kunwar.

Source- Republica DailyLink- http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=69233
Published on 2014-02-08 05:30:43

Hard choices await govt funded schools: perform or face merger

NIRJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, Jan 4

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: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=67167

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

DoE orders private schools to cancel send-up exams

REPUBLICA

KATHMANDU, Dec 22

In an attempt to oblige private schools to the law endorsed two years ago, the Department of Education (DoE) has decided on Sunday to end the practice of private schools taking SLC send-up exams.

In a meeting of the committee formed to take action against the Private and Boarding School Association´s (PABSON) decision to take send-up exam for the third consecutive year flouting the law, the DoE Director General Lav Dev Awasthi directed the PABSON to cancel its exams scheduled for the second week of January.

Though the sixth amendment of the Education Regulation 2011 states that a 10th grader with 70 percent attendance in the class is eligible to appear in SLC exams, the PABSON has been denying those students who fail in send-ups from appearing in the SLC exams. Last year alone, 10 percent of the total examinees of private schools were deprived from taking SLC exams.

“The schools are free to conduct exams as a way of practice for the students, but they can´t debar students from appearing in SLC exams on the basis of send-up results,” said DG Awasthi. He added that the PABSON has agreed to withdraw send-ups from this year.
The schools that refuse students to appear in SLC based on their send-up performance would be fined Rs 25000.

Source Republica Daily

Link: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=66641

Published on 2013-12-23 02:14:25

Govt schools with dwindling enrollment to be merged

REPUBLICA

KATHMANDU, Dec 1

Faced with continued decline in the enrollment of students at public schools, the government has introduced a policy to merge them.

For their better functioning after merger, the Department of Education (DoE) plans to provide a promotional allowance of Rs 10,000 to each class through the District Education Office (DEO), the directive has stated.

Similarly, the teachers working in the two schools that are merged will work in the school thus formed till the government makes another decision regarding manpower management.
The DoE endorsed the directive making it effective from Sunday and authorizing the DEO to merge two or more schools on the basis of their student´s enrollment, nearness of school from one to another, and the property dispute between two or more schools.

The DEO has been authorized to merge schools if they fail to attract the required number of students. However, the directive has clarified that the poorly equipped schools in geographically difficult places would not be compelled to seek merger.

In mountainous areas, schools with less than 10 students in grade 1 and 20 in grade 12 would be merged. In hills, the schools that have less than 20 students´ in grade 1 and 25 in 12 would be merged with two or more schools. But in the Valley and Tarai areas, schools with less than 30 students in grade 1 and 2, 35 in grade 1 to 5 and 30 in grade 12 would be merged.

“The DEO in the mountain districts can merge schools only with the permission of community stakeholders,” the directive reads.

The directive has been endorsed, based on the Education Act-1971 and the Education Regulation. Though the School Sector Reform Program´s standard ratio for the teacher and student has been set at 1:30, the teacher-student ratio in the Tarai region stands at 1:50, in the hills at 1:45 and mountainous region at 1:40.

Geographical region

School level

Grade 1-2

Grade 1-5

Grade 6-8

Grade 9-10

Grade 11-12

Mountain

10

20

20

20

20

Hill

20

25

25

25

25

Valley/ Tarai

30

35

30

30

30

Source: Republica Daily
Published on 2013-12-02 02:37:34

Lack of full budget likely further weaken education sector

NIRAJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, July 2

At a time when the Ministry of Education (MoE) is facing criticism over poor SLC results, not releasing a full budget for the second consecutive time in the upcoming fiscal year would hamper the target set for the education sector, the officials have said.

The MoE has demanded Rs 82 billion with the Ministry of Finance to run the special programs such as ensuring free and compulsory school level education and implementing Prioritized Minimum Enabling Condition (PMEC) indicators in the community schools, which still fall well below government´s targets. The MOE had received Rs 63 billion, the largest share of the total budget, for the running fiscal year.

Speaking at the program organized by the Education Journalists Network, Tek Narayan Panedy, director at the Department of Education (DoE), said that the lack of full budget in this fiscal year hampered the PMEC improvement, which would worsen next year.
Only 842 schools were found to be implementing the prioritized conditions out of the total 23224 community schools that provided all the data of PMEC status in their schools.

Following the failure to ensure 25 child-friendly Minimum Enabling Condition Indicators (MEC) under its School Sector Reform Plan (SSRP), the Department of Education (DoE) last year had introduced five PMEC to be implemented in all community schools.
As per SSRP, which has been implemented since 2009, the government was to create a proper environment in terms of infrastructural and social aspects in all the community schools across the country by 2015. However, the DoE minimized the reform criteria following slow progress made in the sector.

The prioritized minimum indicators are intended to make sure that all schools are equipped with basic facilities that cater to the diverse needs of students, including physical and learning environments. However, the PMEC report also shows that only 2000 schools have computers, whereas 27,000 schools lack them.
The PMEC survey also revealed that the students´ average achievement was 30 in English that carries total 75 marks for theory. Similarly, 44 in Nepali (100 marks), 37.88 in Science (75 marks), 43 in Mathematics (100 marks) was the average achievement of the best students. The student´s performance in Social Studies was worst as they received only 24.82 of total 100 marks in the subject.

Though the standard student-teacher ratio for each level is considered 37:1, the MoE fails to maintain that ratio in lack of 55000 teachers, the PMEC report states. As a result, the ratio at 28,773 community schools, based on the approved teacher positions in the ongoing academic year, stands at 40:1 for primary level, 60:1 for lower secondary and 36:1 for secondary level.

Educationist Kedar Bhakta Mathema blames political leaders for the poor performance of public school students. He added that structural inequality in the public and private schools has increased the gap between the students from various communities which could be bridged by strengthening the public schools.
He raised concerns over the government´s reluctance to promote community schools in the Valley as no such new schools have been established in the capital for years.

He added the mainstream political leaders need to give their clear opinion on what agendas they have on upgrading the fading charm of community schools, colleges up to the university level.
The physical environment of the community schools, such as buildings, provision of adequate classrooms, separate toilets for girls and boys and a playground, are also poor.

The PMEC report also reveals that community schools across the country are in need of 10,000 toilets.

Source: Republica DailyLink: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=57197
Published on 2013-07-03 02:44:12

Govt to blame for decline in SLC pass rate

NIRAJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, June 13: If the government´s projection made in 1998 is anything to go by, SLC results should have touched 100 percent pass rate by 2012.
However, between 2009 and 2013, SLC pass rate has dropped by 26 percent to 41.57 this year from 68.47 percent five years ago. The dismal show stands starkly against the government´s School Sector Reform Program last year that hoped to achieve around 69 percent pass rate.

The government has spent Rs 555 billion in school education system since 2003. Among the total examinees who had appeared in this year´s SLC exams, 78 percent were from community schools, whereas only 24 percent were from the private sector. But the outcome is reverse as 80 percent of the total students who appeared from private institutions have made it through, while only 30 from public school institutions could pass the exam.

“The government spent Rs 2.6 million on a public school student,” said Educationist Mana Wagle, speaking at a program organized by Education Journalist Network on Wednesday.

“The government is spending Rs 32 billion per year on public school teachers alone since a couple of years. The government keeps spending but does not monitor how well it is being utilized,” he added.

From 2000 onwards, government implemented the Liberal Promotion Policy at grade 1 to 3 in community schools, which was introduced to encourage the poor performing students. But the school administration started upgrading all the students to senior classes regardless of their worst performance.

When the pass rate could not exceed 35 percent for the very first batch under new curriculum in 2000, the government immediately formed a committee to find the reason behind the poor performance. The report on systematizing the SLC and school education was prepared spending Rs 180 million under a committee led by Educationist Kedar Bhakta Mathema. However, the MoE did not even make the report public.

Recalling those days, Mathema mentioned that the comprehensive report was prepared taking one and half years but the effort went in vain. The committee prepared the most comprehensive report in the history of entire education system. The report was divided in 13 volumes of books with total 5000 pages. The Embassy of Denmark had funded the project.

Around 60 pages summary of the report was also prepared at that time to be disseminated to each and every schools so that they could followed by teachers and headmasters, he added.

“Sometimes I feel like crying when I remember how the bureaucrats buried the report secretly. The results would have been far better if the recommendations in the report were implemented,” says Mathema.

“Teachers still think that their job is over after completing chapter and most of them do not bother even to complete course,” he said. The teachers need to give regular class works, creative home works and also a remedial support classes following the results of class tests or terminal examinations, the report suggested.

Raising serious concern over the current academic status, Mathema said that the country cannot develop if community schools remain weak.
Human Development Index depicts that average education standard of Nepalis is till third-grade, the same as Afghanistan.

Source: Republica Daily

Link: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=56119

Published on 2013-06-13 01:50:18

FSU poll elusive as student unions fail to settle mass admission issue

NIRJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, May 27: Only 10 days remain for the Free Student Union (FSU) polls, yet the student unions affiliated to various political parties themselves doubt that the polls would be held on June 6, the scheduled date.

The uncertainty arises from the dispute surrounding mass admissions in the Tribhuvan University (TU) constituent colleges that took place on May 16 and 17.

The student leaders point fingers at each other for the current dilemma. Nepal Student Union (NSU) coordinator Ranjeet Karna claimed that the All Nepal National Independent Union-Revolutionary (ANNISU-R), affiliated to both the UCPN (Maoist) and the Baidya faction, have been trying to disrupt the election strategically.

“It is the dispute between these two groups who have the mindset to disturb the election environment as they fear losing,” claimed Karna.
The unions have been blaming each other for the mass admissions which were done to influence the election results. The college authorities had initially said that the cadres affiliated to different unions admitted around 3000 students in seven colleges spending more than Rs 12 million.

Madhav Dhungel, president of the CPN-UML aligned All Nepal National Free Student Union (ANNFSU), said that his organization was ready to appeal to the respective colleges to cancel all the admissions done after April 6, the day when the TU executive committee had announced fresh poll date for June 6.

He demanded an investigation into the source of the money the ANNISU-R spent for mass admissions.
The ANNISU-R was has rejected the accusation that it enrolled hundreds of union cadres in the campuses by paying millions of rupees within two days.

Earlier, ANNISU-R, NSU and ANNFSU had forcefully admitted students in droves, taking campus chiefs and administration officials hostage till mid night.

Meanwhile, the ANNISU-R President Himal Sharma said that the student unions do not have rights to scrap the admissions.
“Let the university decide whether the admission are fake or genuine, we have no rights to spoil the future of genuine students who got admitted on the last date,” he added.

Colleges padlocked across the country
Nine Valley-based constituent colleges have been shut amid protests against the mass admissions by the student unions. The TU´s Central Campus in Kirtipur has also been padlocked by the Biadya-affiliated ANNISU-R demanding annulment of the mass admission.

On Sunday, the ANNISU-R had submitted a memorandum to the TU Vice Chancellor demanding the university to create environment to hold the poll at the TU Central Campus, Kirtipur. The ANNISU-R president Sharma has been threatening that his organization would not allow the election at any colleges across the country if it was not held at the central campus.

Rasaili claimed that Sharma wants his party´s domination at the central campus so that their party has a representation in the TU senate. He claimed that the organization has started padlocking the colleges across the country. The student group on Monday padlocked the government colleges in Nawalparasi and Butwal.

TU, unions dialogue futile
Meanwhile, the meeting held between the TU authority and the four student unions remained inconclusive on Monday. The meeting held at the TU Student Welfare and Sports Council ended after the ANNISU-R president Sharma rejected the possibility of scrapping mass admissions. Chief of the Council, Ganga Bahadur Thapa said that another meeting would be held on Tuesday to create favorable environment for the poll.

Source: Republica Daily

Link: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=55302

Published on 2013-05-27 23:38:43