Stranded Students, Girls’ Education and Agreement with Teachers

This week there was highest coverage of the ‘Educate Girl, Save Girl’ campaign launched in Province 2. The coverage emphasized the role of education and school to bring socio-political changes in the society. The issue got multiple coverage with space on the front page and editorial as well. News of government’s preparation of the Consolidated National Education Act also was also covered in the media this week. The agreement made by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) with Nepal Teacher's Federation that compromised the constitutional rights of the local level government was boldly criticized by the media. The news about the uncertainties of Nepalese students’ future in Australia (as The Institute of Business and Technology (IBT) an academic institute was found unregistered with the government) also was a well followed story this week. News of Bhojpur Municipality taking exam for teacher’s recruitment also made it to the media. MBBS students of Gandaki Medical College who boycotted third year exam to continue their sit-in for correction of fee structure was reported.

- Girls' Education Insurance program ‘Educate girl, Save Girl’ was inaugurated in Province 2 in the Presence of President Bidya Bhandari in Birgunj this week. The President stated that prosperity of the country can be ensured only after women’s empowerment. Girl’s Education Insurance Programme, under ‘Educate Girls, Save Girls’ campaign is run by the government of Province 2. The media report stated that even today expenditure in girl's education is regarded as a waste of money due to the socio-economic factors that prevail in the tarai region and in rural parts of Nepal. Province 2 Chief Minister, Lalbabu Raut informed his government’s preparations to ensure a 50% reservation for women in the employment as well.

In collaboration with a bank, the province government will deposit a premium of 13,645 in the account of everygirl child attending a school. This amount will be one hundred and twenty five thousand rupees and can be withdrawn only after the girl is 20 years. This is also to prevent child marriage that in many cases interrupts access to education for girls at early age, stated an editorial in Kantipur Daily.

The fund and the quality education for girls was difficult to link in this approach, as it was also raised in the matters in the media. Though the title of the fundcalls for education, the strategy appeared to focus more on other aspects of gender equity prevailing in the society. The policy or a separate department to manage and plan the execution of this campaign is yet to be formed. It will be important to view, how the fund and evaluation strategy will ensure access to education for girls in the region. The most appreciable impact of this campaign would be that it directly links the role and ability of education in the transformation of the society.

The role of schools to ensure safety of girl students atpresent context where reports of violence against younger girls are increasing was also reported in the news.

- The agreement made by the MEST with Nepal Teacher's Federationwas criticized in the media for having compromised the constitutional rights of the local level government. Constitutionstipulates school education up to secondary level under the purview of local government. The Ministry in contrary has signed an agreement to ensure that all teachers’ appointment and management will be done under federal government. The agreement also promises on the side of the government to include these provisions in the forthcoming National Education Act that is under debate. It states that the appointment and management of teachers will be done by District Level Education Development and Coordination Units under the federal structure. The agreement states that the facility of the teachers will be determined by the federal government and that the facilities will be superior to basic level Civil Service Staff. Education expert Mana Wagle was reported stating that the agreement was used as an excuse by the federal government to retain power in its hands. It was also noted that the federal government is taking such steps frequently to keep control against the spirit of the federalization of the governance which is the essence of the constitution.

- News of government’s preparation for the Integrated or Consolidated?? National Education Act also was also covered in the media this week. The Act will deal pre-school to higher tertiary education in an integrated manner. The draft states the Act will be based on federal structures and division of authority among different levels of government as envisioned in the Constitution. It will consist of list of shared responsibility among all government levels as well. The Act was reported to replace Education Act 2028, University Grants Commission Act, Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) Act, Scholarship Act 2021. Teachers Service Commission and National Examination Board will also be restructured accordingly.

- The news about Nepalese students’ future in Australia (for the institute not registered with the government) also was a well followed story from last week to this week. The Institute of Business and Technology (IBT) lost its license due to irregularities in admitting international students. Action was taken by the Australian Skill Quality Authority. The issue was uncovered when its graduategot to learn that the institute wasn’t registered with Australian Health Practice Regulator Agency (AHPRA) and Australian Nursing and Midwifery Academy Council (ANMAC), that permit individuals to practice nursing in any hospital in Australia. Nepalese Embassy has been coordinating with Australian government in the matter. At home, Nepal government has started investigating on the education consultancy company that send students to unregistered educational intuitions. Role of the Ministry and the agency that gave No-Objection Letter was also reported to be under investigation. A separate committee for the investigation has been formed.

The news exposes the lack of regulation on education consulting companies by the government. Its beyond the scope of government to trace the status of thousands of intuitions abroad. It should be the responsibility of the Consultancies with whom government should deal toughly. However, it should also be noted that there are agencies in the so called first world countries including China that are established just for generating money from the pitiful state of education in developing countries such as Nepal. Friends’ relatives of the analysts have narrated how her college also in Australia was filled only with colored students and quality was low even if it was registered with the government. They did not bother with attendance or assignments as long as we paid the fee she had said. There are similar stories from China. It has two dimensions. One is that how these countries let rip off money from youngsters belonging to developing countries as they are lured for being able to migrate to their ‘dream lands’, Another is that how long countries like Nepal continue to believe that the standard of education in those countries is better. The first dimension will prevail as long as there are no institutions that deliver quality even to those going to those countries for ‘a high standard’ education. A big question arises what happens to those students who have been educated in countries such as Australia and have come back to Nepal? How we take standard of education obtained in those countries if every generation has to go there for getting educated? Have not institutions from those countries transferred any education to start educating Nepalese here?  

- An opinion article by a student about his ‘gap year’ was published in the media this week. The student said a gap year would be a year for self-reflection. The writer also stated a social disagreement and doubts about the cause of gap year that was linked to possiblebad results as a problem faced when taking a gap year. Education and present social structures demands youths to be in a race against time. The opinion article stated that a gap year would be important to explore new possibilities and to identify recent developments in different sectors that could help students make wiser decisions about their future.

The opinion article discussed about the stress from expectations over early academic achievementstaking education as a means of economic return. Academic decisions based on economy by the state and the parents have not been a subject of discussion in the media. There is a need for encouraging professional counseling services in schools to youths in making informed decisions about the subjects they choose and the careers they wish to pursue. Dynamics of workforce is changing dramatically round the globe.

- News of Bhojpur Municipality taking exam for teachers’ recruitment also made it to the media. The examination was conducted to screen five teachers to hire in contract by the Municipality. The exam questions were prepared by Municipal Education Committee. The examination was conducted to ensure fairness and for the selection of the best teachers.

This effort from Bhojpur municipality can be on inspiration to many municipalities. The approach and strategy taken by the Municipality to manage teachers under the present state of affairs, can be a relief to many schools and students who are in dire need for teachers. The strength of a federal structure is the management of problem at local level which is more needbased than done by a central government located too far from the reality.

- A news also covered about a school in Kalyanpur Municipality where school was about to be shut down due to absenteeism of teachers. MunicipalEducation Committee Coordinator had monitored the school and had directed the Education Department not to pay the employees’ salary after locals complained the school was shutting down frequently. 

Preparation to teach English, Science and Nepali in Madarsas for the improvement of economic situation of the Muslim community was also reported.

'Education this Week' is a joint effort put to analyze the press coverage of education in Nepal’s print media published in Kathmandu. The main aim of this effort is to identify and explain major education issues picked up by the media and give back and foreground of the news.This, we believe, will help policy makers and other responsible people to keep abreast with ongoing concerns and discussions on and around education. EduKhabar, in collaboration with the Center for Educational Policies and Practices (CEPP) , has produced this analysis based on the news printed in Kantipur (Nepali) and The Himalayan Times (English), Dailies, Himal Weekly (Nepali) and (international online portal) between Feb 20-26, 2019 (Falgun 8-14,2075) - Editor.

Read this analysis in Nepali :  विद्यार्थीको विचल्ली, बालिका शिक्षा र शिक्षकसँग सरकारको सहमति


Read last week’s analysis : Decline on Coverage Continues