Stirring Stories on Private, Higher and Local Education

Kathmandu - This week the media continued to cover the news about the policies presented in the parliament with priority to higher education institutions. News about Higher Education Fair organized by Higher Institutions and Secondary School's Association Nepal (HISSAN) and Kantipur Publications was frequently covered for Prime Mnister’s Oli’s controversial inaugural address.   A full page intense interview of former Vice Chancellor Prof Kedar Bhakta Mathema on his stands in the recent proposed Bill about higher education was published this week. 
This week the most followed event was an education fair on higher education with slogan, ‘Quality Education within Nepal’. The fair was a joint venture of Higher Institutions and Secondary School's Association Nepal (HISSAN) and Kantipur Publications. Organizers plan to conduct the fair, all over Nepal from next year, and start the campaign "STUDY IN NEPAL" from next year to encourage foreign students. Nepal has the potential to be education destination with good weather, security, and English medium stated the organizers. Prime Minister KP Oli encouraged the private sector to invest in education sector without hesitation as their investment is secure and protected. News stated there were two hundred and fifty thousand participants in the event.  PM Oli’s statement goes against the spirit of the recommendations made by the High Level Education Commission and the popular understanding of the pro-socialist state.  His statement has reinforced status-quo in the education sector and stirred the educational sector both for and against although MrOli did not mention which levels of privatization he meant.
- "If the proposed draft Bill becomes the policy, university will turn into a cemeteries"- former Vice Chancellor of Tribhuwan University Prof Mathema stated in his exclusive interview on his stand against the recent proposed Bill about higher education. Recent Amendment Billpresented in the Parliament to amend Education Acts intends to strengthen political control in the process of appointment of Vice-Chancellors ofthe Universities. It also suggests ensuring the power to the government to fire or take action against staffs if they are not complying with the government. Former Vice-Chancellors have been very vocal against the Bill. In the interview, Prof. Mathema states, this Bill will end the autonomy of the universities. A study of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal by Asian Development Bank in 2014 concluded a need for 'de-politicization of higher education'. He shared an example from Japan, where government takes advices from professors on important issues. He explained that public academic institutions are suffering from the lack of ownership. This was a consequence of the 2028 B.S. education policy that nationalized the education sector.He calls for abolishment of unions whether that of professors, staffs and thinks a single student’s council would be enough. Nepal is one of the nations with highest share of parents in education (48%). He stated the transparency and accountability of teachers and schools can be ensured through local governments.  
- This week an opinion article calling for the need for school education to be under the local governments was published in the Kantipur Daily. It states, in the process of federalization, education faced mostimpactful disruption, as the authority of managing school education has been bestowed to the local governments by the new constitution. The article states the challenge has rose further for the lack of support from the teachers’ unions and bureaucracy in the process of localizing school education. The researchers from Martin Chautari, a non-governmental social research concludes that the present intervention by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) is weakening the federal structures and at the same time will fail to correct the long due mistake of taking away the authority of the schools from local level and community in the name of nationalization undertaken in year 2028B.S. 
- The coverage of corruption in exams continued with the news of Exam Controller of National Exam Board, attending the grade 12 examagainst the policy, where his daughter was an examinee. Though Controller Mr. Krishna Sharma had taken leave officially, he was found involved in formulating exam questions and checking of his daughter’s answer sheets. The news revealed that he along with the President of the Board, and Member Secretary strategically mislead the Minister of Education, Science and Technology in this matter. The Ministry has responded with seriousness in the matter stating the lack of ethical stand and calling for serious action against the involved. It is one of the areas where civil servants are clear. Exams are taken seriously than teaching and learning – a legacy of borrowed colonial educational system. 
News stated that Far-Western Province government is conducting language classes for foreign employment quite contrary to its own policies. The Ministry of Social Development in the province has signed an agreement with Dhangadhi-based Star Private Limited to conduct classes for English, Japanese and Korean languages.Representative of the civil society stated that the government should not depend on remittancealone and has to create new job opportunities giving vocational training instead of beingmade to attend language classes. This strategy could be seen as a response of the government based on the present need and practice in the society. This should not be the only plan, but to prepare youths with better language skills, who are likely to go abroad could be regarded as an strategic step based on the present situation. Intertwining sucha policy in school curriculum could ensure better pay and learning experience for youth who would go abroad for work from the Province. 
Gokarneshwar Municipality launched its local curriculum in the presence of Minister of Education Science and Technology this week. The minister stated local curriculum will strengthen federalism in Nepal. Mayor of the Municipality stated that the curriculum will ensure conservation and promotion of local identity, religion, culture and tradition. An opinion article by a student calling for vocational education to ensure job opportunity after college was published this week. Another opinion article by a student about the democratic practice in his school to elect House Captains, as an important practical lesson on democracy was also published this week. 
'Education this Week' is a joint effort put to analyze the press coverage of education in Nepal’s selected 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 22-28, 2019 (Jestha8-14, 2076)- Editor.
Read last week’s analysis : Higher the Education, Higher the Mess