Higher education focus of the media : Dr K C Steals the Show


Kathmandu - This week the articles about higher education dominated the issues of education in the mediaIt included different stages of approval of Medical Education Bill in the parliament and the debate intensified insideand outside the parliament.
 
Deep rooted corruption and misconduct in the use of resources inside Tribhuvan University was also exposed by the media this week.  Legal challenge to a letter of the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration  restricting the rights of the local government to formulate laws about secondary education and multiple news on efforts to make citizens literate by different levels of government was also covered in the media. Below are the five most noted education related matters in the media this week.
 
- Senior Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Govinda KC started his 16th hunger strike as the government fails to hold on to the previous commitments to the doctor.  The Parliamentary Committee on Health and Education had passed the Bill by a majority to forward it to the Parliament where the Bill will be voted to make it a law. Major change was that in contrary to the agreement made between Dr KC and the Government the law would allow the Universities to give affiliation to more than five medical colleges outside Kathmandu Valley.
 
The issue received priority throughout the week and was supported by the media editorials and different civil society groupsrallying in support of the doctor. Following previous trend of high coverage of medical education agenda, media covered the issue with priority in the front pages and editorials with many letters to the editor.  A 30% of the matter about education this week was about medical education policy. Editorialsexpressed carried the genuine demands forpublic health and the vested interest of the proposed draft. 
 
Editorial by KantipurDaily stated that the bill was more focused in ensuring the welfare of a close group then the welfare of the general public. Thebill is conflicting in itself in allowing the private sector to open medical colleges outside the valley while stating that they would be made non-profit and service-oriented after 10 years. Dr. KC mentions that the issue of the fair medical policy is deep rooted to corruption and misconduct of the law makers and that he intends to stand against corruption by political leaders.
 
- Corruption and irregularities in the use of resources of Tribhuvan University by its officials, was another most followed matter covered in the news, editorial and the letters to the editor. It exposed the fact that in many cases the land was donated by the authorities to different interest groups to secure their esteemed positions by the authority. Such news also stated the culture of unethical compromisesand the state of higher educational institutions in Nepal. Matters questioned the responsibility of the entire academic community for ignoring such a culture.Such situations and the lack of autonomy of universities have been discussed many times in the media. 
 
Only the last week,the Prime Minister K.P. Oil had stated that universities should be the institutions to learn the science of life (living) and ethicsjust not theknowledge. He failed to link the present critical state of the universities with one of the most important factor to have caused it let it to have it, politically driven appointments, political interventions in university affairs and the control by the government.
 
- The need for recognizing local heroes as part of the curriculum in schools was raised bythe Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Mr. GirirajmaniPokhrel. In a program dedicated tophilosopher political activist,MrRupchandraBista, the person behind ‘Thaha’ or 'Know'Campaign, in Thaha Municipality,  he recommended that his philosophy should be part of the local curriculum. Such discussion on efforts to recognize local stories in the curriculum could ensure that students identify themselves with the local community, thus encouraging the scope that they work and contribute to the community in future. Such discourse of localizing the curriculum and its impact in the socio-political and economic dynamics has yet to be discussed in the media.
 
- A news about 7 million US dollars(eighty croresNPR) of loan for theconstruction of school buildings of 10 public schools by Asian Development Bank also made it to the media.Such news of donation and support are rarely followed with analysis of its impact and efficiency of such contribution. Constructions are based heavily on non-renewal material and often not tallying with learning outcomes of the students. It’s becoming a frustrating phenomenon that buildings are getting bigger and the number is decreasing in many public schools. Such an investment should be done forecasting the flow of students in next few years and minimizing external material as less as possible. In the name of safety everything has been reduced to safety – a noted engineer retorted.  Somehow similar news was about students from a Korean school donating funds to students of a rural school in Nepal.
 
The fund was rewarded to students in the rural area of Nepal after completion of class 3. The donation was to support travel funds to go to another school for access to class 4.  Though of good intentions, such donation programs and its impact to in the children does not appear in media. Often found that such donations worsen the situation of schools where children are studying making the existing system redundant. It’s a long way for the media to educate the donors. 
 
- An advocate filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court, seeking to nullify recent letters sent by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA) directingall local levels not to formulate laws related to education before the federal government enacted an umbrella law. He has demanded that the MoFAGA’s order be repealed and the court issued a mandamus order telling the government not to curtail local level’s power.
 
The advocate had argued that not allowing local levels to enact laws related to education would affect the children’s right to education and its against the Constitution. It is clear that localgovernments are in experimental phase, such voices from the civil society and by independent individuals indicate that the rights of  local level will be well defended by the civil society. It is a good indicator that the local level will rightfully utilize the right to formulate policies and mobilize their authority to ensure better school education. Innovation and experimental diversity will ensure that different approaches are tried and diversity is ensured through schools, which is the aspired future of federal governance.
 
- Multiple matters about campaigns and effort by the local government to ensure literary by launching classes was reported in the media. Different campaigns to declare ‘whole literacy’ zones and to encourage lifelong education were also covered. News about child literature festival hosted by a public school was also covered in the media. Different matters on accessibility of school and education particularly for girl child was the subject of different news and opinion articles this week. A news about the almost finished public medical hospital in the Far-western Region received appreciation in different letters to the editor.
 
- ' Education this Week' is a joint effort put to analyze the presscoverage of education in Nepal’s print media published in Kathmandu. The main aim of this effort is to identify and explain major educationissues picked up by the media and give back and foreground of the news.
 
This, we believe, will help policy makers and other responsible people keep themselves abreast with the ongoing concerns and discussions on education. EduKhabar, in collaboration with Center for Educational Policies and Practices (CEPP) , has produced this analysis based on the news printed in Kantipur (Nepali) and The Himalayan Times (English) from Jan 5, 2018 to Jan 11, 2019. - Editor.