Education In Nepal: Failing? : Prem Khatry

This small article cannot give even an overview of what is happening in Nepal in the education sector at the moment. There are news reports of scores of medicos who, as saviours, have been killers due to fake certificates. There are news reports of medical education mafias making overnight profits at the cost of the poor Nepali consumer. The list can go on and on. One aspect in our education is urgent: the major agenda now should be the link between education and prosperity of the society, nation. Nepal's education planning has not given much attention to this aspect. Or, one can say not all faculties of education have been able to show visible results.

It seems reasonable to have a brief discussion on the latest developments in the field of education and where we in the 'third or the developing world' must focus on revamping the old, outdated system and go for the one that is dynamic, universally accepted and a strong force for all round development and change of the society, nation. Nations around the world strive to make plans for such an education.

Context One

There is one context that needs mention here as it is relevant to this discussion on education and change. The Council for Teacher Education (CTE) is a non-government agency working hard to bring the teachers of India under one large umbrella. The main focus of the organisation is to create awareness among all the stakeholders and sectors, both government and non-government, about the need of ongoing education for teachers who are the vanguard of the nation always working in the front line shouldering the responsibility of producing qualified citizens for the country. 

CTE is now reaching out to all the nook and corners of India, organising state chapters and enjoying full support from teachers who are now rallying behind the organisation. It is also reaching out to other countries of the region and the world. Nepal has been an active member for the last five years.  There is an urgent need to expand its wings to other parts of Nepal in the near future to facilitate better academic relation with CTE India. This will be for the benefit of the teachers who are committed and dedicated to bringing about the desired change in the life of the learners through their hard work.

Next week, CTE India is going to have its 14th Annual Convention in the coastal state of India, Kerala. The State of Kerala is one of the few states in India with hundred per cent literacy rate. Kerala thus leads the nation bearing the 'torch of change'. That is, Kerala moves on. The agenda of the convention is 'Education for Global Citizenship: Learning to Live Together.' Normally, all the state chapters of CTE take part in this event to exchange ideas about the latest development in the education sector. The convention programme shows some international academicians are also taking part in this with a view to exchanging experience. It has been publicised that human rights and cultural dimensions of education will be discussed at length. Nepal CTE will also take part in this international event as an active participant, providing a special guest and theme speaker.

Context Two

No less a person than Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was heard commenting on the status of education in Nepal the other day. Briefly, he said, education in Nepal has 'failed'. That is, education as the most important agent of change has failed squarely in Nepal. His elaboration was not much out of context. There have been failures in drafting a policy, in implementing them, and monitoring the progress of the programmes. This is more or less the same in other aspects of development. But education being the most important tool of development touches all aspects of life. This was perhaps the main concern of the prime minister.

Where did the prime minister see the ills happening? This is a matter of further analysis and research. Nepal's education sector now is growing with a host of ills that are hard to treat in one or two shots. Experts who have spent their lives serving in this sector are not very happy with what is happening in the name of education. The education mafia is much in the news on a regular basis. There are also hot news about the government's partial treatment on the issue of foreign schools running their programmes without respect to the law and legality.

What the premier did not elaborate was his government's policy to keep eyes on the highly poisonous partisan politics entering education with the fall of the old regime and coming of democracy in the year 2046 BS. The question asked then was, with open multiparty democracy is it necessary to engage teachers and students as active organs of the political parties? Is it not time for them to go to class and make the education sector viable and dependable for the overall development of the country?

But this didn't happen. Political parties made schools and colleges their recruitment platform for their cadres and leaders for the future. This environment continued unabated giving rise to an expensive private education system as the only viable stream where partisan politics had no place and could produce results. Education as the one and only responsibility of the government continued to receive support from governments, international agencies and other programmes abroad. The focus was on basic education, literacy programmes, women education, education for the marginalised and dalits, among others. However, no measurable and notable result was in hand. Party politics reached all levels, all sectors and all corners of education. This is the reason why the prime minister looked worried about the outcome of education.

         

Trade unionism

Finally, if the prime minister, or for that matter, the Government of Nepal is concerned about the outcome of education, freedom of schools or the entire education sector from partisan politics is necessary. Similarly, effective teacher education, monitoring and evaluation, reward and punishment are also important. The government's own machinery, such as the only publishing house at Thimi, is not following orders and dumping the textbook publication’s responsibility to one side. De-poisoning is the only effective weapon to deal with the highly poisonous academic environment burdened and pressed by 'trade unionism' that exists today.

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