Plus Two: A smart choice

Educators say that affordability, competitiveness, accessibility and global recognition are the pull factors for students to opt for Plus Two courses.

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BINOD GHIMIRE
It is always a challenging job for a fresh high school graduate to select the proper course in the right college for higher education. This is the dilemma troubling the 176,253 students who managed to get through the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination last week.

As their college education will build their future careers, students need to give due importance to selecting the right subject at the right academic institution after SLC. This decision will impact students’ choice of career and what direction they will proceed in for the future.

The options currently available in the country for these thousands of neo-graduates are Plus Two courses from the Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) and international standards like the Indian CBSE, American IB level and British A Level. In this state of transition and confusion, enrolling in a Plus Two course could be a safe and prudent decision as it offers a wide variety of courses to choose from—Science, Management, Humanities and Education.

Since the government has phased out Intermediate level and only a handful of colleges offer other degrees, the number of students opting for Plus Twos has risen tremendously. Educators say that affordability, competitiveness, accessibility and global recognition are the pull factors for students to opt for Plus Two courses. Similarly, multiple options, practical subjects, global syllabi and development in education, interest based study and qualified teachers have played a role in bettering the standard of education in the higher secondary level.

Post-SLC students, being in their mid teens, are in biological and psychological transitions; therefore it is prime time for them to set the foundation to pave the path to attain their goals. Keeping in mind that teenaged students require proper care and a school-like environment, the concept of a 10+2 system was introduced in the country in early 90s. The Board, initially established with 1,338 students affiliated to just 38 schools across the country, now has thousands of students under its banner pursuing their high school education in different faculties. Data from HSEB shows that 3,593 schools are now accredited for Plus Two with over 800,000 students studying in grade 11 and 12. Though community schools (2,648) dominate the numbers in terms of affiliation, it is undoubtedly the private sector that is far ahead in providing quality education and creating market space across the country. The increasing number of Plus Two colleges has been a major factor for decentralised education and a reduction in educational migration to major cities. The great investment made by the private sector has helped in producing thousands of competent students every year. According to Umesh Shrestha, President of the Higher Secondary Schools Association (HISSAN), the annual turnover of private Plus Two schools is over Rs 10 billion while there has been investment of over Rs 25 billion in the sector.

Plus Two subject choices
Plus Two schools offer a wide variety of subjects in many streams of study. Around 150 different subjects can be studied under four different faculties and the number is increasing each year. Recently introduced options for students include Agriculture, Music, Applied Beauty, Floriculture, Human Value Education, General Law, Sanskrit and Fine Arts.

In the Science stream, grades 11 and 12 offer a wide ranges of subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, English, Computer Science, Agriculture with additional core subjects. The Management major offers subjects including Accountancy, Economics, OMSP, BOOM, Travel and Tourism, Hotel Management, Computer Science, Mathematics, Finance, Cooperative Management, Business Matt and Marketing while the Humanities stream includes Political Science, Economics, Home Science, Sociology, Population Studies, Mass Communication, Philosophy, History, Culture, Music, Dance, Linguistics, Psychology, Nepali, Maithali, Newari, Hindi, Geography, English, French, Japanese, Urdu, German, Mathematics, Rural Development, General Law, Human Value Education, Environment Education, Byakaran, Jyotish Shastra, Sahitya, Veda, Niti Sashtra and Library and Information.

Fee structure
Compared to other boards, HSEB attracts more students due to its affordable fee structure, which is also suitable for migrant students. On average, students have to pay around Rs 100,000-150,000 for Science and Rs 50,000-100,000 for Management for a two-year course. The average cost for the Humanities and Social Sciences range between Rs 40,000-75,000 depending on the facilities provided by the college. Many colleges also offer a wide range of full and partial scholarships to students who secure high percentages on their SLC examinations and also on individual merit. Students from the districts with good ranks and education records are eligible for the scholarships offered

The Future
There has been great progress in Plus Two, both in quantity and quality. As the most preferred option for higher secondary education, the trend of setting up Plus Two schools has increased accordingly. Records at the HSEB show that the number of Plus Two schools has increased by 1,700 in just four years since the certificate level was phased out. Similarly, 198 others have applied for affiliation this year. While the rise in number has helped boost the quality of education due to the increase in competition, it is also likely to hamper the sustenance of existing colleges in the long run. According to HISSAN General Secretary Yubraj Sharma, if the 179,000 students who got through the SLC this year are divided among the existing 3,596 colleges, each school will receive just 50 students. “How can existing colleges sustain themselves in such a condition?” he questioned. “This will only promote unhealthy competition.” Sharma has asked the HSEB to adopt tougher criteria while granting affiliation. He said that the government should put due focus in increasing the pass percentage in the SLC examination, otherwise, the existing colleges will either have to merge or collapse. Else, they will be compelled to seek other options, maybe offer courses under the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT). Sharma, however, sees no threat from A level, IB and CBSE as they can hardly incorporate 2,000 students annually.

The entire higher secondary level is in a state of confusion as the country, which has been planning to implement a School Sector Reform Programme (SSRP) since 2009, has failed to do so in the lack of required legal provisions. After the SSRP is adopted in the education sector, up to grade 12 will come under school level education and every higher secondary school running Plus Two will have to run school level education. The HSEB will be transformed automatically into the national examination board. “All colleges will suffer if the SSRP is adopted,” said HISSAN Vice-Chairman Baburam Pokhrel.

source:Ghimire, Binod(2013),"Plus Two: A smart choice", The Kathmandu Post,16 June 2013
photo courtesy: The Kathmandu post

2013-06-16 | EducateNepal

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