Welcome Step In A Limbo

 

Prem Khatry

 

This write-up concerns the latest development in our school education system. Recently, the Government of Nepal made the right decision to regulate the school education in a different way. The secondary school level was pushed up or scaled up to grade XII against the grade X existing for such a long time in the history of our school. This new provision was long overdue as it was designed more than a decade ago. The Ministry of Education, however, had dumped this for some unknown reasons. Now it has surfaced, and the government has put its seal as a law with the hope that this will now function.

Unfortunately, though, there are rumours that this new and timely change wrought to govern our school education, particularly the school graduation level, has to go through one more hurdle as if this is a race. It has come to the notice of the concerned people that the office of the right honourable president of Nepal has some reservations on this provision. This news makes many people serious and a bit suspicious, if this is the situation. This will be ‘truly Nepal’ where often times the reverse becomes the order.

 

Public concern

Now the educationists are asking: Wasn’t this the time to scale up the school final exam in terms of experience and age of the student? Didn’t it do a great service to the nation by upgrading the secondary school education and providing the parents a sense of relief and satisfaction that their charges will now come out more mature from the school and not bother with the money culture now seen and practised in our plus two network?

The obvious positive result of this new provision is that we have had the old SLC graduate course for decades at a time when our neighbours like India had implemented the grade XII system long back. Out students had to enter a new level in a new set up, facing huge financial challenges. Obviously, the existing system promoted the private +2 system as the government failed to upgrade the government high schools for such a huge number of school graduates. A large number of SLC graduates living in rural areas did not have access to +2 schools in their areas and had to abandon their cherished goal to go for higher education and live a successful life.

In the urban areas, the picture is different. Plus two schools begin to demonstrate their art of advertisement gradually a bit before the SLC result is publicised. There are a variety of gala events to attract rich, ambitious, prestige-conscious parents and their immature and prodigal children. The entire scenario is worth enjoying, to say the least. The rich and the powerful want their children to join the most attractive and most expensive plus two institutions to show off their might and ultimately dispatch the new generation to a new destination.

A huge per cent of this generation leaves the country with a huge dream and a huge amount of foreign currency. It is said, the third graded institutions abroad are run by the money collected from students from third world countries. Worst still is the fact that the country has to bear the loss of this generation that is lost in the crowd of higher education in the west.  Those who remain behind enter the expensive undergraduate programmes in the private institutions. Many others have to knock less equipped, less expensive private programmes.

 

Challenges for public schools

The new Bill was designed to curb the existing ills by upgrading the school system and holding the secondary level students two more years. This provision could force the public schools to brace up for higher level education and serve the community. For this the government could provide necessary support in terms of hiring or upgrading the manpower to run the upper grades. This provision would thus strengthen the existing capacity of the public schools through a wider network of supporters and managers.

At this point in time the government would be well advised to defend the new legal provision to initiate this process and make a master plan to upgrade the school management system without further delay. Steps should also be taken to rid the law of ‘limbo’ and make it work sooner than later. 

The first and obvious advantage of this new provision is that Nepal will be on an equal footing in the region and outside with the universal grade 12 system in our schools. Second, the universities will start producing the required manpower to run the classes in all potential streams to be instituted in the concerned schools. Even today, there are a large number of qualified but unemployed graduates. The urgent need is to develop a roster specifying the faculty and extra qualification. This is, therefore, an opportunity for them to remain employed and serve the society and nation.   

Now, who could possibly go against the new law and hold the government plan in the middle of its implementation? Obviously, we have a strong and well linked 0+2 community with expensive facilities and an effective network for SLC graduates. This community has ‘unseen’ investors, including powerful magnets that can do and undo things. It is thus not in their interest to have grade 12 at school. A concerted and strong bid to implement this new legal provision may invite their eventual fall as they have not chosen lower grades as part of their programmes.

It is up to the government to come up with sound preparation to make the upgraded schools function effectively or bow down to the pressure from some unknown and dark corners. ‘Resist now and make the upgraded classes effective, attractive and functional’, is the voice of the people, and it must be heard. Public schools must come out to support the provision.

Finally, thus far, the large community of public schools didn’t do this because of the unseen ‘fear’ of extra work and partisan political interest. Now is the time to get rid of this unseen fear and lethargic habit to come forward to build the nation. A strong blow to the profit oriented 0+2 institutions and their monopoly in the system is the need of the hour. Instead of holding the provision they could serve the nation by adding a school level in their premises and serve the nation better.

 

 

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