Exam and Enrolment dominate Post COVID Educational News

Kathmandu - This week news about the operation and closure of schools in different parts of Nepal due to resurgence of Covid cases were reported although it was expected to pick up speed soon after the government lifted a four-month long lockdown. The News about a case of sexual misconduct by the principal of a Madrasha school in Biratnagar was also reported this week. Letters to editors stating the threats of uncertainty in education followed this week as well. Multiple letters stated about settling the uncertainties on exams while also suggesting the need to operate academic activities with better provisions for safety and subsidies for students in need. A letter to the editor also stated that the public schools taking fees against the directives of the constitution should be brought under the law or the constitutional provision for education as fundamental rights should be changed.

The cabinet has decided to allow the enrollment and examinations from August 17 the news reported. The Minister of Education stated that it has been decided to open the assessment process for schools and students to identify their schools. "It's not like running a recruitment campaign like in the past," the ministry was reported. The Minister has stated that the quarantine has to be removed and sanitized before preparing to run schools. The Ministry has formulated framework/procedure for the operation of schools. The ministry had also proposed that the concerned district administration office provide passes for the teachers to come to school. Minister had stated that the educational institution was on the last of the list to be opened even though the lockdown was eased.

Private schools had postponed their classes from July 20 demanding alternative tuition fees or concessional loans from the government. Private schools have resumed online classes after talks with the government ended on a positive note. The private schools had closed online classes from July 16 asking their teachers and staff to stay on unpaid leave, saying the schools could not provide them salary as the government did not let them collect tuition fees and did not provide them concessional loan. Teachers, guardians had exerted pressure on private schools not to halt online classes. Alternative teaching-learning methods were adopted in all schools from June 15 under Learning Facilitation Directives-2020.

The Class eleven examination so far conducted by the National Examination Board now will be conducted by schools themselves. Arrangement has been made for the school to issue the certificate by conducting the examination. For this year it has been decided to give certificates to the students on the basis of internal assessment. Office of Controller of Examination (OCE is reported working on full swing to publish the SEE Result within a few days. However, there were some technical problems and negligence by schools while sending marks obtained by the students. 

Gradual transfer of the assessment of students to schools and local governments that took place because of the Pandemic can be taken as a positive step towards federalization of the school system. This will help build space for innovation in assessment and thus on learning practices. It also has the potential to redefine more trust-based relations among principals, teachers, students, parents and local governments. 

The University Grants Commission has also decided that the examinations of all the 11 universities can be conducted through alternative methods. Community school teachers must be present at the school to prepare for the conduct of alternative classes and the conduct of educational activities the minister of Education stated. Most of the teachers in the community schools in particular have been staying at home for various reasons. A headline was reported on Tribhuvan University (TU) giving the right to decide on semester examinations to the Dean's Office and the Exam Controller Office for annual examinations. In news, Kathmandu University (KU) has decided to give certificate to the students of the university on the basis of the internal evaluation done by the teachers without affecting the semester system. Purvanchal University has postponed the examination scheduled to be held from Bhadra,

Experimental examination at various levels conducted by the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training has been found to be limited to formalities. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has issued and implemented the Training Operation Procedure, 2077 for Post-Corona epidemic. 

Despite complaints about lack of preparations, the government is all set to implement a new curriculum for Grade XI from this academic session, according to a news report this week. The new curriculum is coming into effect as per the vision of the constitution of Nepal, federal structures and prosperous Nepal vision after approving “An Outline of New Curriculum of School Education 2020’. The Curriculum Development Centre has made it clear that preparations were completed for implementation of the new curriculum from this year itself despite confusions looming large following the COVID-19 pandemic. However, stakeholders, including Higher Institutions and Secondary Schools’ Association Nepal and some publishers from the private sector have taken exception to the government move arguing that their voices were not heard in the development of the outline. The outline was made on the basis of fundamental rights, three layers of government, issues of socio-economic transformation, school sector development program, contribution of education in nation’s sustainable development and other issues.

There was also a headline after the arrangement of the curriculum evaluation that a new map of Nepal and a letter of acceptance should be printed in the book prepared according to the new curriculum of class 1, the big publishing house has put pressure to reverse the decision. 

The Karnali State Government is making effort to conduct high level educational programs like MBBS, MD and MS programs through the Karnali Institute of Health and Science. However, they are struggling to get permission from Medical Council. A headline, Dr. KC said that MBBS should be started immediately by providing infrastructure and manpower to Karnali Institute of Health Sciences. He said there was no alternative to Satyagraha if the government did not meet these demands.

The Siyari municipality of Rupandehi has started rewarding the students who attend regular classes. The Khairhani Municipality of East Chitwan has started clearing the quarantine in schools. The local level has started internal preparations to open schools in areas where there is no risk of corona virus infection from next month. Chandragari Municipality is going to run 'One House, One Graduate' program. The municipality has allocated budget by giving special priority to education and health. A community school in Chitwan is sending its own teachers to neighborhood with soaps, sanitizers, and masks as the alternative learning who do not have access to technology and deprived from education. A headline was also on Kathmandu Metropolitan City going to implement local Nepal Bhasha (Newari language) curriculum in all schools in the metropolitan area. 

A headline was reported 30,000 drop in study abroad, putting consulting business at risk due to COVID-19. Of the 63,000 students who took foreign study permits last year, 33,037 went abroad in 076/77, taking about Rs. 25 billion away in 10 months from the country. There was also news about 'Australian Education Virtual Fair-2020' organized by an education consultancy. 

Flow of money to education sectors in the form of aid from abroad and business sectors was also reported. This included 300 million Japanese Yen for the 5th year of the "School Sector Development Program (SSDP) by JICA, continuation of its support to Teach for Nepal by Sanima Bank of Rs, 1 million,  'Ncell Scholarship and Excellence Award 2077'  in the Institute of Engineering Studies, Pulchowk Campus. The National Reconstruction Authority is to reconstruct the building for Trichandra College and Indian Embassy to construct the science building in Mahendra Morang Multipurpose Campus.

The Commission of Investigation of Abuse of Authority is investigating the issue of printing and distribution of books by private publishing houses without the approval of the Curriculum Development Center. Allegation of irregularities against the KU Vice Chancellor was also reported this week. Investigation Committee had claimed that Rs.13.6 million received for affiliation to medical colleges was spent without bills in the name of operation and expansion of Dhulikhel Hospital. News on corruption in the education sector are ever increasing. 

There was an appealing documentary on Nepal in the series called 'Must Dangerous Ways to School' focusing on the daily struggles of students in Kampur village crossing the Trisuli River to their school. 

'Education this Week' is a joint effort to analyze the press coverage of education in Nepal’s selected print media published in Kathmandu. This week, reports included online portals Seto Pati, Rato Pati, Naya Patrika and the Republica. 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 22-28July, 2020 (7-13 Shrawan, 2077) - Editor.

Read this analysis in Nepali : चर्चामा परीक्षा र भर्ना, ओझेलमा कोरोनाले पारेको शैक्षिक असर

Read last week’s analysis : School management and government’s conflict hit the teachers

All analysis read by this link : Education This week