Beyond Enrolment

As in the past years, the government has launched the school enrolment programme across the country to achieve cent per cent success. This time, the government has appealed to all ministers, secretaries, joint secretaries, politicians, people’s representatives, artistes, employees and local governments to get at least one child of school-going age admitted in school. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli himself got six-year-old Ama Chhiju Thinley Sang Tamang of Mugum Karmarog rural municipality admitted at a local school on Saturday. The PM got the girl admitted to school as per the government plan to eradicate illiteracy from the country in the next two years. Prime Minister Oli assumed the guardianship of the child and provided her with school dresses and books. Similarly, Prime Minister Oli’s spouse Radhika Shakya got Tshering Chhontom Lama admitted at a local school and assumed guardianship of the boy. The campaign with the theme of ‘Our Collective Desire: Compulsory and Free Basic Education’ is indeed laudable in view of the fact that more than 88 thousand children aged 5-9 are are still out of school. Worse still, over 313 thousand children supposed to be pursuing basic education are out of schools. So the government altered its existing school enrolment plan to attain 100 per cent success. The data, however, indicate that merely admitting children into schools does not guarantee that each child completes the basic level education if not the annual academic calendar; many children stop going to school due to various reasons. The figures show that nearly 8 per cent children don’t complete even the basic level education. So the government needs to further modify its enrolment scheme to produce the desired outcome – those who admit the child into school and assume guardianship should see through the child’s entire school span. They need to continue with their support and monitor the progress the child is making over the years.

Besides, the government must implement comprehensive reform programmes to improve the condition of government schools. Everyone knows that the condition of most government schools is miserable and they are unable to impart quality education on the attending children. This is because there is excessive politics in school. The school management committee is under the influence of one or another political party; so are the teachers most of whom are affiliated to one or another trade union. The government failed to enforce a system of reward and punishment, so the quality of education the children get in public schools has deteriorated over time and they pass the School Education Examination with poor grades and are often barred from pursuing higher education and are compelled to leave the country in search of livelihood abroad. The new government must take concrete steps to keep schools free from politics and improve the quality of education they provide. Meanwhile, the government has been unable to regulate private schools efficiently. Consequently, they charge exorbitant amount as tuition and other fees, but the quality of education in most of these schools impart is far from satisfactory. At the beginning of every academic year, the issue is covered by the media and student unions draw the attention of the concerned agencies to take action against the schools charging high amount of fees and the authorities vow to punish the erring schools but the issue subsides after a month and things remain as they are. Unless the government takes strong steps to check their wilful moves, the guardians have no option but to cough up the amount they demand.

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