Need For Education Quality Enhancement
Hira Bahadur Thapa
The publication of results of Secondary Education Examination (SEE) demonstrates the disappointing picture of our quality of education especially at the school level. This may not be true in case of private boarding schools where the performance of students is quite good. The problem of deterioration of educational standards persists in the community schools. This is a more worrisome situation because almost 85 per cent of students attend these schools in Nepal. Every year we have thousands of students failing the examination. Following the publication of SEE results, the same question arises why our community schools perform so poorly. The government seems contended with rhetoric of school reform.
To have a reform plan that goes deeper into the problems surrounding the decreasing quality of education has been more urgent than ever. Where lies the crux of the problem should be the agenda of the reform plan. Independent thorough analysis of the problems that are responsible for crippling the education system is the need of the hour. Strong political commitment, not in words but in action, to improve teaching quality is a must now.
Viewed from the government efforts one feels that there is hardly any serious planning that can lead to substantive change in the teaching learning environment of the schools. These efforts have been guided by the sheer motive of displaying the higher percentage of students passing the examination. Without making serious attempts to enhance the quality of teaching in the classrooms, no improvement in school education is possible.
A review of government policy of the recent years reveals the shortsightedness with regard to improvement in education. Before the introduction of letter grading system in the secondary education examination, the government’s emphasis has been placed on showing increasing per cent of passing examination. No one is serious about whether the cognitive skills of the students have been increased.
To address the public discontentment about the massive failures in examination, the previous governments took some measures through which they believed that public can be hoodwinked by showing the higher rates of success in examination. Lowering the measuring benchmark in evaluation helped to have more students pass the examination. One of the fallacies of the education policy of the government has been that the final examination does not cover the Class Nine course. The objective of this measure was to make it easier for the students to get through the examination irrespective of students’ learning achievements.
The inter-connectedness of the course contents of the books prescribed for Class Nine and Ten necessitated the need for the final examination to cover the same. This provision is essential for students preparing for the final examination to recollect the academic contents that they learnt in class nine. But for the purpose of helping the students pass the examination with fewer efforts this arrangement has been removed. Understandably, the concerned education department is more focused on producing results that displaying higher pass rates in examination.
There used to be preparatory test every year for class ten students a few months before the SLC final examination. This system served two purposes. The school applied the results of such tests as the measuring rod for selecting the students who will be judged capable of facing the final examination. Through this exercise the school found out the weaknesses of the students preparing for the final examination. Thus the students could be better prepared by tutoring them taking into account their weaknesses. Similarly, preparatory tests conducted for finally selecting students for coming examination prompted the students to become more serious about their studies.
One of the reasons that has compromised the quality education is the policy of the government that no student can be failed in any examination. Ideally speaking it sounds well. The dilemma created by this policy is that students no more feel responsible for their academic achievement. Who cares to be serious when one knows that there is no risk of failure despite lack of hard work.
There are valid reasons for the government to introduce the letter grading system in school final examination. The students are rated by grading which is done by conversion of obtained marks into six different grades. This system is practiced in many countries. Allowing students for grade improvement tests is another way to ensure that more can become eligible for pursuing higher studies. But ironically, this facility has undermined quality. This year about 60,000 students have failed to achieve 1.6 GPA, the minimum required to get admission in class eleven, which exemplifies wastefulness of nation’s resources.
If the recent chaos and confusion displayed by the National Board of Examination in the publication of SEE results is any guide, then one can conclude that there is complete unresponsiveness and accountability on the part of government officials. The results were erroneous. This has tortured the students and their parents. The discrepancy is so wide that 74 students are now shown obtaining 4.0 GPA while the same was only 24 before revision in the grade sheets. Shamefully, the concerned authority has tried to shift the ones to the technology they have been using in updating the websites concerned.
Neglect of maths
The government has formed an inquiry to look into the above matter but the concern of the public is to know whether the culprits are brought to book so that such blunders could be avoided in future. The ongoing debate in refining the school curriculum also shows how we are going to undermine the quality because the role of Mathematics is being minimised in the proposed course. The main reason behind this proposal is to ensure that more students can get through the examination. It is true that many students fail in Mathematics but in the name of passing more of them we cannot ignore the importance of the subject, so crucial to today’s age of science and technology. A serious retrospection is needed to work out how the trend of eroding standards of school education can be arrested before the country plunges into greater disaster because of educated populace whose foundation of education is terribly weak.