SEE, a tool to evaluate secondary education
The results of Secondary Examination (SEE) grade 10 this year also showed poor performance of the community schools.
Following the publication of the results, many education experts and others raised the routine question on the quality of education in public educations. Others even questioned the relevancy of conducting the SEE from centre level when the government has announced that up to grade 12 is integrated in school education.
In this backdrop, Education Secretary at the Ministry for Education Science and Technology (MOEST) Khagraj Baral, Professor of Kathmandu University Dr. Balchandra Luitel and Headmaster of Padma Kanya Vidhyashram Secondary School and Women Teachers Society’s vice-chairperson Rita Tiwari expressed their views on SEE results and overall school education system of Nepal during the ‘Gorkhapatra Sambad’, a weekly dialogue series organised by the Gorkhapatra Corporation, publisher of this daily.
Radical changes impossible : Baral
There are two exit points-- grade 10 and grade 12-- in our school education system after grade 12 was merged in school education. Thus, the government wants to conduct the final examinations of grade 10 from the province level and of grade 12 from the national level. But the government was unable to do this in lack of the Federal Education Act. Without having the act, there is no body to certify the grade achieved by the students.
Again, an equally strong examination system is required even in grade 10 because courses are streamlining or the students choose their carrier subjects after grade 10. The door to go abroad for study and job opportunities is opened after passing grade 10. So, without building strong a mechanism for conducting the examinations in the state level the government will be unable to handover the responsibility. We are in a transitional phase in terms of formulating the act.
Regarding the quality of education, we can bring about many changes in the existing system of education. But radical changes in education system could be impossible because mentality of teachers, guardians, students and whole society is still guided by traditional system. For example, still our teachers teach textbooks not the designed curriculum. Shortage of textbooks still makes news headlines. Textbooks provide only limited knowledge, and this has been killing the creativity of both the students and teachers.
Although in average, the performance of the community schools cannot be compared with the private schools, there are some model community schools which are performing well and to manage the students’ pressure they have been conducting entrance examination. The government is in a campaign to change public education across the country. The government announced “community schools’ Improvement Decade” from 2076- 2086 to improve the quality of education in our community schools. There are some logics to prove that our community schools will make improvement in the next 10 years. Local governments have highly focused and invested more on education, guardians have become more aware, many schools have new visionary leadership and the newly appointed permanent teachers are innovative, motivated and skilled.
If the community schools become better by providing quality education, the guardians themselves will visit community schools to enrol their wards. Otherwise, the government is unable to interfere in the people’s choice in education.
Good governance in schools a must: Luitel
As our community have old mind-set of School Leaving Certificate (SLC) as school level exist point, the society still feels SEE as the exist point of the school education. So, people are calling grade 11 and 12 as college. As students of grade 11 and 12 get more freedom than the students of lower classes students studying in grade 11 and 12 think themselves as college students. Though it is legally integrated, it will take more decades to change our perception that SLC was more important than SEE. Now, we are in the process to integrate grade 11 and 12 as school education.
The rationality of the SEE remains if we evaluate and analyse SEE results to bring about changes in school education and to improve the teaching learning activities. But that cannot be happened unless the teachers and schools take ownership.
In terms of the evaluation of the students, we can be both positive and negative. We can argue that the real status of the students’ whole year achievement cannot be evaluated only by a three-hour exam. It is worthless. But I think the SEE is relevant as it helps us to analyse and evaluate our school education system.
At the same time, we are killing the creativity of students by asking questions, whose answers come from rote. School education cannot be creative because university graduates or the teachers also produced from the same teaching learning activities. We are setting question papers without doing any trail. If we conduct trail test by forming parallel questions, it will help minimise mistakes that often appear in the question papers. Conducting more tests alone cannot evaluate the students. If we make the teachers more responsible and able to develop a mechanism to test students through teachers, that will be more effective.
Likewise, as general people have a mentality that private schools have been imparting quality education, that is not right all the time. Nepali community wants education as being imparted by private schools. Because students of private schools speak English, teachers and students abide by rules and they look neat and clean. In other terms, private schools have been winning the hearts of students and guardians. But the guardians are unaware about that such environment kills the creativity of their wards. From private schools, public schools have to learn good governance, but tight rule of the private schools must not be followed.
Existence of private sector is required, but it must be limited. Larger presence of private sector in education sector could misguide the entire education system of the country and they could put public education in shadow. In conclusion, self-motivation of teachers and well management and good policy could bring about many changes in public education system of Nepal.
Credit for improvement goes to new teachers : Tiwari
There is still relevancy of Secondary Education Examination (SEE) as it is a tool of evaluating the secondary education. Because of such evaluation system, guardians and students get motivated for achieving better results. Though the government has decided to run grade 11 and grade 12 in every community secondary schools, many schools are unable to run these classes as the government has provided only two quotas of teachers for grade 11 and 12. The community schools cannot run grade 11 and 12 well until more teacher quotas are provided to them. Many community schools have been conducting grade 11 and 12 privately. So, in this context, SEE is more reliable to evaluate education. However, on the other hands SEE gives unnecessary torture to the guardians.
Most people tend to blame the community schools teachers for the poor SEE results. But, in fact, teachers only are not responsible for this. School teachers are highly trained because the government have been providing training to them. But the major concern is that whether those teachers are imparting their knowledge to the students based on the designed curriculum.
The teachers who got permanent status in the past have been following the old lecture methods because they are not ready to be changed. But the newly appointed permanent teachers are highly qualified and competitive. They are trained and use different techniques of teaching according to the curriculum. The latest improvement made by some community schools was possible because of the efforts of the new teachers.
And another major reason behind the poor performance of the community schools is the background of students. Though private schools are enrolling selected students through entrance, the community schools are compelled to enrol all students without any entrance exam. Some guardians do not give any priority to their children education if they are studying in community schools. Such guardians are not sending their children in proper dress; they are not buying stationaries for their children because the children are not in loved and cared by their guardians. If the community schools get aware guardians, quality of education in public school will be improved automatically.
I think the school management, teachers and guardians of any school are equally responsible to improve the quality of education. A teacher is also a social worker. So, the teachers must be motivated to bring about changes in education and to discard the blame charged on the teachers for the poor results. Community schools have more resources compared to many private schools. So, if the community schools have good team coordination, they can perform well.
If the local governments provide tips to bring about changes in the community schools consulting with experts, it will be good. Likewise, the community schools can be motivated for betterment if the local governments grade schools according to their performance.