Worrying Chaos

Kathmandu - This week media covered diverse news coverage with issues of physical punishment, fearless and child friendly school environment, government’s ‘Green School’ campaign launch on World Environment Day, Pressure from the private medical education sector to increase fees, continued irregularity in TU’s staff selection process, efforts at local level, more news of student protest for quality higher education. Opinion articles this week included the decline of humanities subjects and lack of concern from the universities and government authorities in the matter.   A convention organized to internationalize TU was also reported in the media this week. 
- A follow up editorial about persistent physical punishment practices in schools called for serious attention on the issue. It stated that despite the efforts for child friendly environment in schools, practices of physical punishment hasn’t declined. Frequent reports of physical punishment indicatethat the practice of physical punishment has not been clearly addressed by the law. 
- The lack of clear definitions has left a large grey area in defining physical punishment in the school environment. This has made it difficult to identify and therefore control practices of physical punishment until serious incidents in schools are reported. While spanking children by elders is regarded normal culturally, it also has to be seen why it is occurring so frequently. The reports could just be the tip of the iceberg! Has it something to do with the stress teachers go through? Has it something to do with their professional frustration or even deeper in the society? Children as the powerless beings could just have been the victims of vent of the anguish people in general has increased in the society? 
- MoEST on the occasion of the World Environment Day launched, 'Green School' campaign. It will promote ‘one plant per student program, in Twenty nine Thousand Public Schools’ claimed the Education Minister. Danish Forestry Extension and Wildlife Conservation Nepal hadjointlypublished ‘Green School Directives’. It focuses in six aspects to make schools green:including greenery promotion in school premises, waste management, water management, environment learning center, and Eco club formation.
The initiative is appreciable. Looking at the track record of government’s decisions and implementationsit is likely to be limited to a publicity stunt. It needs multiple strategies such as including it in the curriculum, rewarding Green Schools, and make greening as part of practical for students at the same time.  At any case, teachers’ commitment and enthusiasm is key for the success of any kind. 
- This week a report on medical education stated that the operators have confessed of taking more fees thanstated by the government. The parliamentarians have warned the operators that they would recommend the government to cancel theiraffiliation of institutions that have chargedmore fees than prescribed. The operators have claimedthat the additional feesweretaken after ajoint decision of concerneduniversities and the Association Medical College. The operators stated thatthe government’s fee structure is ‘unscientific’. 
Consecutive unfoldingof moreand more cases of anomalies in private medical education sector is an encouraging scene. However, action against the operators of the institutions that have been violating the rules is long overdue. This leaves little space for general public to believe in the execution of actions by the government as recommended by the parliamentarian committee. 
- News about irregularities in higher education continued this week with report of the job Interviews being taken by TUService Commission while investigation on irregularities in written exams is going on. It was reported that representatives of Public Service Commission (PSC) did not attend any of the interviews as a procedure of TUSC minimized the authority of PSC. PSC is the Constitutional Body bestowed with the authority of hiring human resources to all governmental bodies and its undertakings. 
The continuous spill out of irregularities in the media indicates that the entire institution is accustomed to irregularities and corruption. It can be deduced thatconcerned staff have blessed with political protection. 
- Amidst this embarrassing scenario, a convention to internationalize TU was inaugurated by HE the President of Nepal.  The convention was organized with an aim to promote the university internationally and to attract international students.Participants of the event had advised TU to improve and update its curriculum to make itself relevant to present times. 
Such a conference with the aim to internationalize the university is an obvious disconnect at atime when stakeholders are concerned with the credibility of theUniversity for Systemic Politicization through the proposed bill and inappropriate appointments and malignancy. Such disconnections and disagreements in the parliament and in the opinions in the media indicate the reliability of higher education in the country could be a matter of distant future.  
Figure 1: A rallyin support of of temporary teachers staging hunger unto death in Ratna Park _June 11, 2019_ KD.  This is a part of a long series of the management of teachers appointed on ‘ad-hocism’ over decades. Under heavy bargain of teachers’ unions, the issue was supposed to be closed. The temporary teachers who joined up to an agreed date have been ‘regularized’ through a liberal scrutinization process.  They are the remnants teachers not encompassed by an agreed process between the government and the teachers’ unions.  Although the regularization process has been feeble, an end has to come to such a never ending process. 
Figure 2: Students of Natural Resources Management College staging relay hunger strike to pressure the state to ensure regular classes_ June 9, 2019_KD.A report stated that lack of teachers and infrastructure in an agriculture campus affiliated to Agriculture and Forestry University has forced its students to seat for relay hunger strike.  It adds to the list of anomalies in higher education. 
Other news included news of some public schools running remedial classes on Saturdays to help weaker students catch up in Syangja district. The school has made it compulsory to attend schools on Saturday for class 10 students. Though it indicates sincerity among teachers and would ensure better exam results, the socio culture impact of such a whole week schooling practice in the life of students and the society might need broader analysis.  It was reported that Tanahun’sByas Municipality is preparing to allocate Rs 300 million for the education sector in the coming fiscal year. 
(MoEST= Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; TU= Tribhuvan University, KU=Kathmandu University)
'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 BBC.com(international online portal)between June 5-11, 2019 (Jestha 22-28, 2076)- Editor.
Read last week’s analysis : Reinforcing Centralization and Privatization