Despite the number of private colleges currently thriving in rural districts, the Kathmandu Valley, according to experts, still stands as the preferred destination for the majority of SLC graduates from around the country who are looking to enrol in different faculties. And according to the CEO of Golden Gate International College and Vice Chairman of the Higher Secondary Schools’ Association Nepal (HISSAN), Ramesh Silwal, out of the approximate 40,000 students flooding into the Capital every year after passing the SLC, most opt for Science. “Regardless of the number of colleges outside the Capital, infrastructure and other services available at those institutions are generally insufficient, particularly for Science studies,” Silwal says. “But the case with colleges in Kathmandu is different; they are better-equipped and are run by morequalified teachers.” According to Silwal, although the total number of students coming to the Capital every year has declined significantly over the last few years owing to the establishment of private colleges outside of the Valley, the number of enrolments in Science has not really seen much of a downturn.
KATHMANDU AND COMPETITION
Data compiled by the Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) states that there are around 411 registered colleges in the Capital that are running +2 faculties. A total of approximately 150,000 students, from inside as well as outside the Valley, are found to be studying in these colleges. As Silwal explains, the possible ratio of students in Kathmandu colleges from within and outside the Capital could be as close as 55:45, a figure that has, of course, changed over time.
“The number of students coming in the Valley from other parts of the country, just until a couple of years ago, used to be more than 45 percent,” he says. “The establishment of private colleges in other major cities like Chitwan, Hetauda, and Nepalgunj, among others, has, however, brought a decline in the overall number of SLC graduates seeking further study in the Capital.” The numbers might have gone down, but there’s no denying that they’re still substantial. Silwal explains that aside from the available facilities and quality of education, competition is another factor why so many students from outside districts still opt to come all the way to Kathmandu. “In colleges beyond the Valley, the competition among students takes place only at a regional level,” he says, “But coming to Kathmandu means competing nationally.”
THE FEE FACTOR
Although enjoying better facilities in Kathmandu, for students from outside the Valley, the general fee structure in colleges here still poses a major challenge. Those without a scholarship have to fork out between Rs 100,000 to Rs 150,000 in fees for a two-year Science course, says Silwal. And while the cost for Management studies ranges from Rs 50,000 to Rs 100,000, the total cost for Humanities or Arts courses comes to around Rs 40,000 to Rs 75,000, depending on the facilities that a particular college is offering. Of course, these costs are just an approximation and the rate varies from one college to another. For instance, at the Capital College and Research Centre (CCRC), where over 1600 students are enrolled in the 11th and 12th grades, a student in the Science faculty has to pay Rs 75,000 for the two-year course. Similarly, a student opting for commerce has to pay Rs 50,000, as per Hari Lamichhane, principal of the college. Likewise, in the Babarmahal-based Mega College, a Science student has to pay around Rs 100,000 for two academic years. According to Executive Director of Mega, Gopal Khanal, a student of Management has to pay Rs 70,000 for a course of the same duration. And according to Shivadutta Gyanwali of Universal College in Maitidevi, students pay Rs 110,000, Rs 70,000 and Rs 60,000 for Science, Management and Humanities faculties respectively. Fees could, however, be reduced if a student is granted a scholarship and most colleges offer scholarships of varying degrees, but these depend on individual merit. Nabin Bhattarai, a 12th grade student at GS College in Kalimati, who is currently under the Management faculty, says his monthly expenses come to somewhere around Rs 10,000, which combines his college bills, rent for his room in Kirtipur and other purchases. “That’s given I bring rice and other foodstuff from my village,” says Bhattarai, originally from Syangja. “Even when that is set aside, I still need Rs 10,000 to pay for college and live in Kathmandu, which is a steep amount.” He says things become even more difficult when there are strikes and fuel shortages.
CALL FOR COLLEGE GRADING
Given the massive expansion of the number of +2 colleges every year, a section of education experts have floated the idea of implementing a ‘grade system’ to categorise colleges in terms of the facilities and quality of education they provide. The idea, still in a nascent stage of discussion within the educational and policy-making arena, will not only systematise the quality of education in the Capital— as well as outside—but will also help monitor the fees charged by colleges, say experts. According to Silwal, among the 411 registered colleges in Kathmandu, there are a number that, in reality, are not providing the kind of facilities they claim to offer. “Many colleges charge high fees in exchange for ‘better services’,” he says. “But they fail to deliver.” He adds that if the grading system were to materialise, these fees could be assessed against the actual quality of facilities and education that is enjoyed by students. Silwal believes that implementing the grading system isn’t a particularly difficult job and that the results would make the task worth any efforts necessary in the process. He has been raising the issue on behalf of HISSAN, and says that discussions are proceeding in a positive manner. “We are planning to take this issue to the policy level very soon,” he says. “This is expected to solve many of the problems currently existing among +2 colleges in the Capital.”
source:Adhikari, Ankit (2012),"Higher education in the Valley", The Kathmandu Post,20 June 2012
photo courtesy: Laxmi Pd Ngakhushi, The Kathmandu Post
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