बुधबार, १० असोज २०८०

Educational rights curtailed on bureaucrat’s interest

सोमबार, २७ कार्तिक २०७४

Edukhabar Analysis / The political and administrative restructuring of the Nepali state are being carried out simultaneously. Nepal proclaimed a new constitution from the Constituent Assembly after an effort of nearly 8 years. Two and half years after the implementation of the constitution, local, federal and central government are taking their shape. The state power will now be exercised by all these three units. The annex 8 of the constitution has allocated 22 rights to the local government. The government has brought local governance functioning act further expanding and clarifying these responsibilities. The act has enshrined 23 responsibilities for the local government under its jurisdiction to oversee the primary and secondary level education. The local governments can proclaim their own laws that will not contravene to federal and provincial laws to fulfil those responsibilities.

All 753 local governments have assumed their responsibilities following the local elections held in the country. The provincial and parliamentary elections are due later this month and early next month. The local governance functioning act has not entrusted local bodies with rights related to educational curriculum and teacher’s management. The designing of the curriculum may be a technical issue but the local government will now not have a decisive say on what subjects they want to teach their students. There was an opportunity that the central authority would design a national model of curriculum and the provincial and local governments would localise it based on their needs and priorities. But that opportunity is missed. In the context of the curriculum policy, now there is no difference between the previous unitary state and the current federal state. The school curriculum will continue to face criticism that it is not based on international standard, it’s not practical and it’s just theoretical. The interest of the bureaucrats and political leaders is to blame for curtailing this right, which even develop countries have entrusted to their local governments.

The ‘so called experts’ and administrators who claimed that the school education would be in jeopardy due to responsibility handed over to the local governments  now are successful to keep teachers out of the jurisdiction of the local bodies. The intent of teachers to remain outside the purview of local governments has instigated the incorporation of the provision in the law.

The association of teachers, had argued, in the past that they would not work under the school management committee. Because of this a grant provided by the World Bank to improve quality of school education, expired just by being deposited in the bank accounts of school.  The World Bank, in its report, has noted that the project failed because of the teachers. Now teachers have been successful to ensure their immunity from local governments. The legal provision will not make the public education accountable to the local governments.

The legislation approved by the President in Oct. 14, expands educational right of the local governments. It says the first responsibility of the local governments would be to determine policy, law, standards, plans, monitoring, implementation, analysis and regulation.   These policies, law and standards would mainly focus on the early childhood development and education, basic education, parent education, informal education, open and alternative learning, community learning and special education. Article 11 (2) of the law categorically states basic and secondary education, would fall under local bodies. The clause 8 of the annex 8 of the constitution stated about the educational right of the local government.

H. Basic and School Education

1) Early childhood development and education, basic education, parents education, informal education, open and alternative learning, community learning and special education related policy, law, standards, preparation of plan, monitoring, evaluation and regulation.

20) Coordination and regulation of educational programmes till secondary level.

Like we have mentioned above, the political parties are not focusing to entrust right to the local government. They are deceiving the local governments. They are focusing on election.  Taking the advantage of the situation, bureaucracy has been able to retain their power at the centre. This will ensure that they would be able to exercise the power from the centre and the local units will just obey their orders. Different professional associations of teachers are also backing on this initiative. Even a month after the certification of the act, no section of stakeholders related to education have expressed any voice on the curtailing of the educational right. Article one states policy, law, standard, plan as responsibility of basic education but doesn’t talk about secondary education. Article 20 talks about secondary education and states the words ‘coordination’ and ‘regulation.’

By evaluating the two jurisdictions mentioned in the act, we can say that by using indirect methods, the politicians have cheated, the bureaucrats have imposed their interest and the professional organisations have backed bureaucracy to infringe upon the rights entrusted by the constitution to the local bodies. The local governments have lost an important opportunity to bring positive changes. How can a law that will allow oversight of a basic education under one fashion and secondary education under an entirely different manner bring positive outcome? Authorities have not demonstrated their trust to local government. The local governments lost their power without even exercising their right.

The experts who claim that the school education would further worsen following the handover of the right of education to the local government should evaluate what was the achievements under the centralised set were up. The bureaucracy will not make reforms; they just prefer the status quo. The politicians so far have failed to eternalise it. Even politicians and experts advocating for federalism and autonomy are quiet. The local governments are yet to react. It is unclear whether they are really unaware of the legal provision or they are just pretending as if they know nothing.

Time will tell how ‘the independent, impartial and efficient’ judiciary envisaged by the constitution will interpret the new law. But we can say today that a constitutional right of the local government has been curtailed and this is a political deceit. It is a severe blow to those who had trust and hopes of educational reform under the aegis of the local government.

सोमबार, २७ कार्तिक २०७४