Education Camps and Transforming Student Politics

Kathmandu - This week the media highlighted the uncertainties in education policy through a dedicated editorial.  An innovative strategy taken by Golanjor Rural Municipality to drastically improve learning outcomes at primary level through Education camps was also reported to be replicated in multiple other municipalities.

A news about a Campus Chief from Biratnagar selling hard copies of student’s research reports for recycle, received criticism from different walks of life. Outgoing VCs and their controversial decisions continued to be covered this week as well with reports of TU’s VC making decision worth 600 million(60 crores) by passing procedures.

A report covered about medical students’ protest calling in the government institutions to abide by the law, was reportedly acknowledged by the Education Minister. On the other hand, a news report stated the gradual decline in activities by student wings of political parties and student politics in educational institutions in general. An opinion article discussed about the unscientific approach of teaching science in schools through rote learning.

Abbreviations: MOEST- Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, TUSC- TU Service Commission, KD-Kantipur Daily, THT-  The Himalayan Times, , SEE- Secondary Education Examination

-    It was reported this week that teaching learning activities using information and communications technology (ICT) has started in a school of Mahalaxmi Municipality in Dhankuta. The school has started teaching students from grade IX to XII through power-point presentations after it was declared ‘excellent school’ in the municipality.

Head Teacher stated that a laptop was provided to all secondary level teachers. The municipality and Province 1 government provided 20 laptops to the school along with projectors. Head Teacher informed that all secondary level teachers had to make daily lesson plans and carry out teaching learning activities of all subjects through power-point presentations.

It is appreciable how ICT is being integrated in public schools which have also ensured sincerity among teachers to make daily lesson plans to work in schools. It can also be observed that the interest among teachers and students must have drastically increases after technology was introduced. 

It should be also noted if these interventions specially done in model public schools are replicable to all public schools in the municipality or how the province government plan to equally distribute such intervention in its jurisdiction.  Else, this would only be a one time, one place intervention, adding to the indifference and inequality that private schools create which cannot be aspected from public institutions.

-    As medical students around the nation unit to protest against the inaction of the government agencies towards irregularities in medical colleges, media continuously covered the issue throughout the week. An editorial call the government to take action against private institutions that are taking extra charges from students. A sub-panel of the Parliamentary Education and Health Committee that investigated all 21 medical colleges across the nation submitted its findings to the full committee on Sunday, recommending various measures to control such illicit practice.

The medical institutions had started admission procedures based on previous policies, while students have protested demanding singular entrance exam policy for institutions around the nation, and 75% seats in scholarship, as stated in the new policy. Unlike in most previous cases, Education Minister had responded immediately the next day with instructions to address students justified demands.

The politics of students of medical institutions, that are mostly free of any political affiliation, have in recent years been truly focused to struggle for the rights and welfare of the students. It has succeeded to bring in real changes in policies that will ensure quality and equity of access to medical education. This in contrast to the news this week that student politics in other colleges where party politics play major role, is declining, should be noted. Past student leaders from different parties, stated that the political parties should have policies that are relevant to the present scenario, to revive student’s wings, accepting the lost relevance of the present structure and approach.

This change of scenario seen on how student politics is being changing could be indicating the seeding of new form of politics in the nation. It can’t be declined that the political leaders or at list the culture of politics the nation of tomorrow could accept may more likely come from the medical students that have proven themselves, then from student wings of political parties that have lost their identity and relevance in the present transformative times.

-  Golanjor Rural municipality was reported to organize Education camp programs in their own funds, after the camp organized by civil society groups, proved to be very effective. Its being run from class 1 to class 3, and is building reading habits among students. Students unable to identify letters are able to read and write text very well in relatively short period of intervention.

Education Camps in 32 schools of the municipality are funded by the municipality itself. The news reported 20 municipalities are organizing such education camps in their own funds, while 16 municipalities are being supported by nongovernmental organization.

This approach should be noted to be a more relevant kind of intervention that should be taken by local governments. Unlike previously report of highly resource intense ICT based intervention in a single school, education camps in primary level, appear to be more replicative and under the budget for local governments.

Provincial and federal government agencies should identify such practices, acknowledge best innovative approach and help replicate effective and successful ones through policy interventions.   

Figure 1 An art published along the opinion article on unscientific rote learning based science education in schools

-    An opinion article discussed rote learning as the primary fallacy in science classes in schools. The writer explains, thought science is all about; analysis, research, and innovation, science class practices stand against these approaches of exploration and knowledge creation. The writer states the practices of teaching science is unscientific in schools.

The labs and experiments are mostly just formality and the books fails to connect science with the local and national context. It states that science curriculum fails to recognize many scientists from the country and has not been able to be relevant to everyday life. Thus, many students who are more exploratory and curious prefer to fly abroad for further studies argued the writer.

An opinion article that discussed about the need to transform the bureaucracy of the nation particularly highlighted the need to reform education system to ensure collective change in all aspects of the society.

'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 and Himal Weekly(Nepali) between August 28-Sept 3, 2019 (Bhadra 11-17, 2076) - Editor.

Read this analyas in Nepali : विद्यार्थी राजनीतिको रुपान्तरण र शैक्षिक क्याम्प

Read last week’s analysis : Living in the forest to be in School

All analysis read by this link : Education This week