How to operate schools post COVID lockdown ?

Kathmandu - This week news discussed about the strategy to restore education after the government announced strategy to gradually loosen the lockdown. There were plenty of follow-up articles about the programs in education presented in the fiscal budget this year. A letter to the editor appreciated the education minister’s press release stating that the ministry wasn’t consulted in proposing the programs that the finance minister had announced in this year’s budget which stated that private schools will take responsibility of at least one public school.

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

-    A letter to editor, appreciated education minister’s press release that the program proposed in this year’s budget stating private schools would take responsibility of the public schools, wasn’t endorsed by the MoEST.  The letter also stated that these aren’t the kind of program the public is expecting at the moment when the economy is in crisis due to the ongoing pandemic. While educators and public school supporters where already raising their voice against the presented programs, this statement from the ministry itself has become relief to many stated the letter. The statement has made finance minister and the prime minister answerable for the program that was proposed without consultation with the education ministry stated the letter.

-    An opinion article titled ‘Challenges of the online classes’ stated that rushing to start schools and launch admission programs would not be safe considering the health risk of students and parents. The worry among all that this gap from regular schools could have a long term impact in the students’ future should be acknowledges stated the writer. Many students studying in urban schools are back home in different cities. Municipalities should arrange for these students to join schools where they are. It suggests that the ministry should consider rural setup while creating guideline, and conduct sincere analysis of the state of access to technology before it declares operation of schooling in online medium.

-     A news report  discussed that private schools are lobbing to the government to make provisions to collect fees from parents as soon as possible. The government has announced that schools can continue in alternative medium like print, radio, television and online from Asar 1. Private schools have demanded that admissions be conducted prior to the operation of alternative classes.

-    An opinion article discussed about the challenges of operating online classes. The article suggests that the analysis of accessibility and efficiency of learning online should be based on trials, and any judgment without testing it would be irresponsible. It suggest that while planning for reopening of schools we should consider the broader context of the pandemic, plan and decide based on proven methods, invest to extend skill and resource, become tech friendly, and learn through trials and practices. The article also brought attention to the fact that proper approach and communication will be required to encourage teachers and schools to taken positive steps towards being tech friends, which will be a challenging task for many in rural setup. 

-    A letter to the editor discussed on the strategy to reopen education after the lockdown. The article stated that the state should urgently address the uncertainty of exams to ease the discomfort of students. It suggests quarantines should be removed from the schools and that the entire education year schedule could be restructures to address the present situation. It also suggested schools could be operated in different shifts of the day or in different days from different classes to make possible sincere social distance rules in schools suggesting the municipality to create guidelines for its schools.

-    A news reported that Bagmati Province is all set to open provincial university. The Bagmati Province government will be opening a provincial university in the next fiscal year. It has already set up legal and institutional structures to run academic programs, as mentioned in the budget estimates for the fiscal year 2020-21. In addition to this, the provincial government is also providing scholarships to girl students in the province who aspire to acquire higher education, under its slogan ‘Wish of Bagmati Province, Higher Education for daughters/daughters-in-law’. The provincial government’s policies and programs also lay special emphasis on skill-oriented and employment-oriented education to promote entrepreneurship among youths stated the report.

-    Another report stated that TU is all set to go digital with its own domain. The country’s largest and oldest university, the report stated, has claimed that it has almost completed all preparations to create digital identification of its students, teachers and other staffers to begin online teaching and learning amidst the coronavirus pandemic. TU said it had cracked a deal with Microsoft to create its own digital domain for almost 500,000 members, including more than 450,000 students.

'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 June 3-9, 2020 (jestha 21-27, 2077) - Editor.

Read this analysis in Nepali : कोभिड : कसरी सञ्चालन गर्ने विद्यालय ?

Read last week’s analysis: Bad intentions towards public education

All analysis read by this link : Education This week