Late awakening-Education in Community Schools

More disappointing is the fact that most government schools have turned out to be political centers. Many different political parties recruit their cadres from government schools. This is largely the result of government inefficiency.

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DURGA GAUTAM
Of late, there have been some significant moves regarding education in public schools. One of these includes the decision made by Education Ministry to build 2,000 separate toilets for girls this fiscal year. This is definitely a welcome move. Though late, the government has woken up to realize the need of taking initiatives to improve the quality of education in community schools. The decision comes after a research carried out by Department of Education pointed to the lack of toilets for girls in schools as the major reason behind a huge drop out rate among girl students. The Ministry of Education should be lauded for addressing the needs of hundreds of thousands of female children across the country. The government has also decided on a few more issues that hold strategic importance in promoting the standards of education in community schools. Among other steps, they include awarding two community schools with the highest pass percentages in SLC from each district, and publishing the name of inefficient teachers in the ministry’s website.

The decisions, however, mark just a beginning, and will not be enough to achieve the Millennium Development Goal by 2015. There is a long way to go in order to improve education across the country. The government receives a huge donation from the international community for boosting the education sector. Nepal government also allocates a substantial amount, usually the largest share of the national budget, for the development of education every year. It has allocated Rs. 80.95 billion, 15.65 percent of the total budget, in the 2013/14 budget alone, and this is an increment by 34.62 percent compared to last year’s budget. However, the education sector still seems neglected. There has not been any significant progress in the results so far. The condition of state-owned community schools is more or less the same. Their inadequate infrastructure continues to deter students. They lack even the basic requirements to house and teach children for the major part of the day. Many public schools across the country still lack drinking water facility. The children either carry drinking water from home or rely on rivers, which are sometimes miles away from the school. A significant number of schools do not have enough school buildings and classrooms. The children are taught either under trees or on open grounds, and sometimes in animal sheds. The timely delivery of textbooks still remains a major problem, especially in remote areas. Sometimes students do not get textbooks even when the session is already halfway through.

Another problem in most public schools is large number of students with a limited number of teachers in proportion. The teachers have a tough time handling large classes. The classrooms are often congested, sometimes with no space for teachers to stand. No teacher can think of effective lesson delivery in such a condition. The government has not been able to recruit an adequate number of teachers in these schools. In contrast, there are some other schools, especially in the upper Himalayan regions, where the number of teachers is greater than that of students. Having no students to teach, teachers at these institutions while there time away, sometimes in gossip. These teachers could be transferred to schools with low teacher-student ratios.

More disappointing is the fact that most government schools have turned out to be political centers. Many different political parties recruit their cadres from government schools. This is largely the result of government inefficiency. In the absence of effective monitoring and evaluation system, teachers have made schools platforms for political growth. Most of them don’t attend classes regularly, and those who want to do their duties sincerely are ridiculed and mocked. This ultimately discourages the few good and dutiful teachers in these schools.

There are many teachers who fail to maintain even the basic ethics of their profession. They consume alcohol on the duty hours and attend classes under its influence. It has a direct effect on the quality of education imparted. That is the reason many public schools turn out zero results in SLC every year despite the huge investment made by the state in education sector. The private sector has held the burden of education for decades, and has saved the face of the government so far.

The private sector, however, is not free from problems. Education in private schools is gradually getting more and more expensive. Now, it is almost out of the reach of common Nepali parents. Only a handful of people from upper middle class and above can afford to educate their children in competitive private schools. There is no uniformity in private schools, not in books, extracurricular activities, uniform, or anything else. The private sector is also in dire need of regulation. The government needs to introduce regulatory laws for them.

In conclusion, whatever the government has come up with recently is praiseworthy, but this shouldn’t mark the end of its endeavors. Nevertheless, it certainly provides a great impetus to the long journey to be covered ahead.

source: Gautan,Durga(2013),"Late awakening", republica,6 August 2013
photo courtesy: republica
The author is a lecturer at Pentagon International College

2013-08-06 | EducateNepal

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