Government’s commitment for Quality Future of Public Schools

Kathmandu - The media reports this week were about education policies including about exams and assessment, government’s commitment for quality of public schools, new courses in Open University, local government’s efforts in school education and different responses from private schools associations on pro-public school stand of government.
- There were multiple news this week about the government’s commitment to improving quality of public schools.  Media reported that the government has set a policy to reform public school education, declaring ‘Public School Enabling Decade 2019-2029.’ The policies and programs presented in the Parliament included the provision which would be launched across the country. Though the government has been launching ‘School Area Development Programme’ with the assistance of donor agencies, its result has not been effective so far stated the news. Learning achievement in public schools is around 50 per cent at present and the government expects to increase it by adopting new policies and programmes the report informed.
A news particularly reported about collective response of Private and Boarding Schools Organization Nepal, and National Private and Boarding Schools Association Nepal seeking the central government’s intervention to stop local governments from defaming the private schools thereby discouraging students from studying at such schools.The media also reported that the government envisions to make country fully literate in two years. It was reported that President Education Improvement Programme would be launched toachieve the goal within the stipulated time.Thegovernment will also ensure thatthe school curriculum is student-friendly. Further, to ensurequality education in publicschools, teachers will be provided necessary trainings andequipped with required educational materials reported the media.
- There were multiple news that raised the issue of Private and Boarding Schools.Multiple media outlets reported the objection of Private school associations on the approach of the government towards pro public school efforts and commitments. The associations reportedly objected that the approach of the government was intruding the constitutional right to quality service of the citizens. One news also reported that the Private and Boarding SchoolsOrganisation Nepal, and National Private and BoardingSchools Association Nepalhave sought the central government’s intervention tostop local governmentsfrom defaming the privateschools thereby discouragingstudents from studying atsuch schools.Issuing a joint press statement, PABSON and N-PABSON stated that some localgovernments were spreadingrumors that student studying at private school wouldnot be eligible for government jobs in the future.
The frequent response from Private school operators about the for-public school policies and efforts of the government at different levels is a sigh that the policies of the government are making real impacts in the society, affecting the private school. While, this is a good sigh of the sincerity of the government and the effectiveness of its effort to ensure quality public schools in the future; it would be important to ensure that the government in prepared for the strategy to timely improve the quality of Public schools when the operators and investors of private schools are reportedly warned and demotivated to expand. 
- Nepal Open University has announced to launch diploma and shorter courses in Journalism as reported in the media. It has collaborated with Nepal Press Institute for required expertise. The university is also planning to bachelors and master’s degree. 
This is a remarkable example of collaboration between academic institution and other institution to make higher education more professional and practical. The offer of courses of professional subjects in distance medium would be beneficial to professionals to simultaneous practice and continue their professional and education simultaneously. 
- This week there were two opinion articles discussion about the need to reform the assessment systems in the school as the present exam based assessment is outdated. One article called for the transformation towards a continuous assessment systemfrom the present paper based assessment. The school sector development plan (SSDP),which is currently underway in Nepal, envisionsbringing about change inthe school education sectorby strengthening it in altogether five core dimensions: Equity, quality, efficiency, governance andmanagement, and resilience. As one of the core dimensions is ‘quality’, enhancing the relevance andquality of assessment and
examinations is a key output area it states.  If further argues that Continuous assessment also calls for individualized instructions to be given tothe students of various grade levelsin the same class. This runs into practical difficulty for large size class in public schools it argues.
Until a major restructuring, if not a total overhaul,takes place in the curriculum, examination systemand teacher training, it argues, that continuous assessment of students throughout the learning process, to improve exam performance is the best approach to go ahead. Another opinion article argues that exam centric assessment approach has make cheating a common phenomenon in different levels of education in Nepal, calling for the change in exam system with open exam approaches that invites examinees to access books and internet. The article argues this will ensure the assessment is of the level of understanding of the theories and the use of it in practical life than just the assessment of the memory power that is the present education system focuses on.
These articles have well stated the need to prioritize the strategic transformation of exam and assessment systems to bring the need change in learning practice and approaches in the schools of Nepal, be it public or private. It would be a recommendable approach to form a research committee that would focus particular on the state of present assessment systems in schools and recommend the strategy and approach for better assessment pedagogy for schools in reference to the present status.
Other news that made it in the news this week includes, the beginning of local curriculum in MadhyapurThimi Municipality after the curriculum was built after the formation of a local curriculum committee.  A news stating that one of the approach to school reform would be to ensure nutritious food through plantation of vegetable in schools as informed by the president was also reported this well.
'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 online portal)between May 1-7, 2019 (Baisakh18-24, 2076)- Editor.