MANA PRASAD WAGLEY
The fever of SLC is slowing down. As in past years many educationists, teachers and policy makers made known their opinion. Unfortunately, the opinions were similar, or in many cases, the same as they used to say in previous years. This indicates that the MOE is not serious enough to improve our education system. It allocates budget for education, sends textbooks to schools (that too only 52 percent of the 32,000 schools get them on time as their own report indicates) and conducts examinations. Doing this it spends more than 75 percent of the education budget on school education. Teachers get their salary for 13 months, the MOE officials and other personnel do the same. Seminars and workshops are conducted in the name of improving the education system and generating quality but the government schools have not been able to raise their quality status, rather it is deteriorating each year. The outcome of these government schools this year is only 36 percent passing the SLC exams compared to 46 percent last year. Nobody is accountable for this poor result in our system. The MOE has not made any attempts to improve the system and is just continuing the same for years. Doing nothing and expecting good results is never possible.
The SLC result will go further down if the MOE does not listen to its stakeholders. Seven girls committed suicide because of failing in the SLC exams. It is because of the wrong policy in education that Nepal lost seven of its future builders. It is not only the loss for the parents and near ones but for the nation. Had the MOE or the government issued statements ensuring the future of those failing immediately after the SLC result was published, we could have saved these seven lives. They knew that this happened each year but they never tried to save these young students. If the Minister of Education and the high level authorities of the MOE have a sense of morality, they must face the public and apologize for their mistake. The Minister and the Secretary of Education say they are unable to reform because the parliament has not passed the new bill. And this is their excuse only. They always want to escape from reality and put the people in illusion. There is nothing in the new bill that guarantees peoples’ right on getting quality education service.
In the past ten years, the government spent around 4 trillion rupees on school education alone. But the outcome of the ten years school education, i.e., SLC, is pathetic. The number of government school students passing the SLC marginally exceeds one lakh. Many of them ending between the gross achievement status of 32 to 59 percent. How can MOE claim that the education system is working in Nepal? Calculating the expenditure and pass out graduates of SLC, the cost will be more than 3.5 million per student. This cost is the highest on school education in the Asian context. And this money is the taxpayers’ money the government is spending. How can the MOE justify this huge expense for nothing? So, the MOE is the first responsible figure in this chaotic education scenario.
Secondly, our system has not yet made teachers accountable to students’ achievement. In private schools, the teachers are made accountable to students; if they cannot do so they will be fired. This is one of the main reasons why they have a high pass percentage rate. Moreover, the school management committee has hardly made any effort to improve instructional activities in schools. The SMC of the government schools are highly politicized. Partisan politics is involved to elect a chair of the SMC. For months and months the schools are disturbed in the name of election as if they were having parliamentary election. What do our children learn from these ridiculous activities? Teachers are mentally divided in partisan politics; head teachers are appointed based on their loyalty to the party in power; teachers participate in political activities leaving their classes behind; the teachers encourage students to raise the flag of political parties and join the activities in their school dress and in school hours; and so on. What can we expect from these teachers then? The evidence is the SLC result. Recently, a print media published news that in the eastern part of Nepal the worst case in SLC belongs to those schools where the head teachers are the teacher union leaders. Is not this enough to claim that the second major responsible figure to make our system a failure are teachers? Teaching by teachers and learning by students are two different agendas. Going to the class and completing the syllabus is just teaching. Monitoring students progress continuously, diagnosing their problems timely, providing counseling services to the needy ones timely and ensuring that they achieve the minimum standard is learning.
Unless and until the MOE comes up with a minimum standard of learning core subjects like Language, Mathematics and Science and makes the teachers accountable to ensuring those minimum standard of the students, our SLC will not be producing any fruits. Moreover, it is also advised that those passing the core subjects must be declared pass and evaluation of other subjects must be decentralized to the local context.
source: Wagley, Mana Prasad (2012),"Systemic incapability Impact on students' future", The Himalayan Times,25 June 2012
Dr. Wagley is an educationist.
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