Shining Public Schools: Birat Anupam

Public schools outperformed the private ones in terms of improving the annual SLC (School Leaving Certificate) pass percentage this year. The pass percentage of private schools is 4 percentage points down from 93.25 % last year to 89.30 % this year. Whereas the achievement of public schools has climbed up 5 percentage points from 28.19% last year to 33.92% in this year's results. Pokhariya Secondary School of Biratnagar, Morang and Santi Namuna Secondary School of Manigram, Rupandehi and some other schools exhibited extraordinary SLC outcomes. Pokhariya School saw all its students pass, including in distinction and first division, and Santi Namuna School outshone all schools of the district with more than nine students scoring above 90% and 49 others with distinction marks. Gyan Chakshyu School of Dharan, Sunsari, a school for visually impaired students, saw all its students pass in first division. On the other side, a private school in Kathmandu witnessed nil SLC result. Here in Sunsari, two private schools were found with zero pass percentage. Private schools with no SLC pass-outs are estimated to have crossed a dozen as per media reports. The examples above show that star performers are not necessarily from private schools and even otherwise abandoned public schools can stand tall. Not all private schools are good achievers and not all government schools are poor performers. It's true that the bigger volume of our SLC pass rate is contributed by the private sector as guardians invest a lot in their pupils and schools also seek every possible way to improve the exam scores. Tragically, students in government-financed public schools, generally, come from poor parents. These deprived students have to shoulder their familial chores, compromising their studying hours at home. Hundreds of thousands of public school students are not provided timely academic books. Course contents are not completed in the public schools as their classes are discontinued owing to several reasons, like teachers' protests, political movements, many off days, monsoon weather changes and the like. Despite these hurdles, public schools tend to perform exceptionally. We have a trend of judging one's economic status by seeing where his/her children are admitted. Some gimmicks displayed by the private schools are additional reasons why students get attracted there. Negligence of the public schools to improve their declining results is another factor. However, with increasing government investment, a spacious school area, comparatively flexible academic activities, many extracurricular activities and yes the latest improved results and growing use of English as the academic language will lure students in public schools. With the recent Gorkha Earthquake, guardians were sceptical about admitting their children in schools with tall buildings at the heart of congested city areas. But almost all public schools have spacious playgrounds, a small school structure and enough open spaces. These must be capitalised to attract more students in public schools. If the unequal educational scenario is to cease, improving the public school's results and resources are a must. Our poor citizens cannot afford annually skyrocketing tuition fees in the private schools. To fill the deepening gulf of the two educational systems and to give respite to low-income families, our public schools ought to be strengthened, and this is the right time to start. biratanupam@gmail.com
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