Revamp Public Schools
It has become evident that the country is not getting the bang for its buck when it comes to education. A few days ago Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had admitted that education results do not match investment made in the sector. The country pours a huge investment to provide education free up to secondary level but the outcome is quite disappointing. PM Oli cited managerial flaws and indifference towards quality education for this situation. Public schools are grappled with myriad problems – poor infrastructure, politicisation, corruption and lack of competent teachers. Even there is lacking a sense of commitment and responsibility on part of teachers and management. This is a reason why the public schools fail to draw more students from all strata of society. Instead, the parents prefer to send their wards to private schools and are ready to pay through the nose. Now the public schools attract only those students from poor, marginalised and Dalit groups. Even in such a situation, they face an unintended problem- increasing drop-out. The students hailing from the disadvantageous and downtrodden families, who have enrolled in the community schools, do not continue their study even though they receive education free of cost. It appears to be a big conundrum but it has simple answer – owing to the poverty, they are forced to leave the study in the middle.
According to a news report, published in this daily Sunday, at least 60 students are dropping out in a single academic session at Tika Vidyashram Secondary School at Sanepa of Lalitpur for the last few years. Three years ago, the number of dropouts reached 90. Mostly these students are domestic helpers from outside the valley. They temporarily come to Kathmandu for menial works to eke out a living. As they go to home districts during Dashain or other festivals, they do not return. The schools as well as the house owners are clueless whether these dropouts resume study in their village schools. Located in the downtown of Lalitpur, Tika Vidyashram has only 300 students. The number of local students is few and far between. Mostly the students from the migrant families get admitted in the school. It is no wonder that children from daily wage earners, landless squatters and labourers study there. As their parents shift to other places, their wards also move along with them. As a result, the rate of dropouts rises and fluctuates. The news report said that the dropout rate is higher among the male students compared to the female ones. As the boys grow adult, they head for India for employment. Conspicuously, it is the economic factor that forces the poor families’ student to pack in study. This is particular case that applies to most of the public schools operating in the Kathmandu Valley. These schools miserably lack the local students. This poses a challenge to the schools to convince the local parents to send their offspring to the state-run schools. It is the collective responsibility of the school management, teachers, parents, political parties, civil society, concerned stakeholders and media to work for the improvement of the standard of education so as to win back the people’s trust in the community schools.