“Education ministry in coma state?”


Kathmandu - This week there were relatively more news then previous weeks on education. The topics were more diversified covering topics from fear caused by inaccessibility to online classes, extent of inaction of Education Ministry, reflection on new fiscal budget, readyness of our higher education institutions, politics of Sanskrit language, state of our distance education approach, students involvement in national boarder arguments, local level to deliver books in students home, private school teachers submit memorandum demanding salary. There were few international news on school reopening amid Covid pandemic and debates around it as well.

Abbreviations: MoEST- Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, KD-Kantipur Daily, THT-  The Himalayan Times, SEE- Secondary Education Examination , TU- Tribhuvan University, KU-Kathmandu University, NOU- Nepal Open University, MoD-Ministry of Defense

 -    News continued to discuss the anxiety caused by online classes in families who are unable to provide access to online technology and services. The news has also reported that education experts have suggested priority to invest on accessibility to technology in the new fiscal budget. Schools and institutions have started providing education in schools based on online services, which has given relief to families with these services available. But, the impact on families unable to afford these expensive technology are feeling left out in the crisis of the ongoing pandemic.

-    Many letter to the editor discussed on diverse topic throughout the week.

-    An opinion article advised parents to be aware of the potential addition to digital technology. The article advices parents that overuse of these online technologies can cause gap between family members and should be aware of the consequences of its overuse and addiction. It also alerted parents to be aware of the health impact of increased screen-time among children and adults. It also discussed about the psychological impacts of being exposed through social media and need to put limits on use of online technology.

-    A news stated that the new fiscal budget was mostly continuation of the regular programs, and failed to address innovation requirements sufficiently which is the need of the hour. The budget discusses about provision of computer labs and high speed internets in public schools but remained silent about methods of class operation. This absence would benefit private schools stated the report. The experts’ committee formed by the government had suggested that even mass communication technology like radio and television could not be inclusive for all  as a distance education method.

-    Previously a letter to the editor had stated that the education ministry was in coma state, referring to ministry’s absence in mobilization around the announcement of the new national fiscal budget. The budget misses to address and recognize the special need to reform education sector as per the need of the hour.   The budget fails to discuss about the need for counseling to students, addressing on approach to take exams differently, digitization of education systems and the need for teacher trainings for working in the present new conditions, stated the letter.

-    An opinion article questioned the readiness of our higher education institutions. It discussed about the life changing long term impact that this pandemic could lead globally including the functioning of education systems. It predicts of the need for new methods and course needs of higher education globally including in Nepal. It states if the universities and education system fails to address these needs of the time, urgently, there could be a massive out flow of youths in search of better education opportunities. The article states our higher education institution has failed to transform along with the need of the times, and have stuck blindly with outdated curriculum. There is a need for proactive discourse on how the global economy will transform and how the nation should cope with it including and beginning from higher education institutions itself. Higher education systems should also recognize and acknowledge the opportunity to address youths who where about to or planning to go abroad for higher education but are unable to do so, stated the writer.

-    An opinion article discussed on the issue of Sanskrit language and its politics, in context that recently government has made public Sanskrit curriculum for grade 1-3. It stated that forcing children of age yet to be able to speak in their mother tongue properly, to learn a language unknown and irrelevant for them can only be atrocity against them. The writer expressed doubt in the intent of the government for taking the decision without any public consultation. The writer also noted that while there where many mother tongue languages that needed attention of the government, it worked on Sanskrit curriculum which is not a mother tongue to any community of the nation.

-    Suklagandaki Municipality, Tanahun was reported preparing to provide textbooks at the doorsteps of students as COVID-19 cases rapidly increase across the country. He added that the municipality had decided to this effect as a preventive and precautionary measure against COVID-19. The municipality had already informed the ward offices to ensure that students got their books by May 24. He said that admission process was halted due to the virus, but the final results of grades I to IX had been declared.

-    Private School Teachers’ Union, Bhadrapur Town Committee, has submitted a memorandum to Bhadrapur Municipality accusing private schools of not paying salary to staff. A team led by committee Chairperson handed over the memo to the mayor informing him that some schools in the municipality had blocked the salary of their staffers of the last academic year without any genuine reason. It was reported that of the total 33 private schools in Bhadrapur Municipality, only three schools have paid salary up to the month of Chaitra (mid-April).

'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 between May 13-19, 2020 (Baisakh 31-jestha 6, 2076) - Editor.

Read this analysis in Nepali : "अचेत अवस्थामा शिक्षा मन्त्रालय"

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