'Satyagraha' Week in Education


Kathmandu -  The news on Dr. Govinda KC's 'Satyagraha' (non-violent resistance that includes fast on to death) was all-time high in the media. News editorials, articles, headlines, and letters were all around the 'Satyagraha'. Six governments, 19 'Satyagraha', 227 days and counting as Dr. KC's modest demands have been ignored. There were opinions such as; Dr. KC has become a 'phobia' to the government. Some take the 'Satyagraha' as a movement for good governance and warning against the medical mafia in the country. He is portrayed as a hero of Karnali people, who have to struggle even to   have a glimpse of a doctor by the media. Even local leaders of the ruling and opposition parties were reported expressing their solidarity with Dr. KC.
 
The news stated that civil society -led by the youth staged sit-in protests wearing bandages and candles were lit in his support Khalanga, district Headquarters. Similarly, the news reported that the Solidarity for GKC Alliance has staged a demonstration in Maitighar Mandala in Kathmandu in support of Dr. KC and it has continued every day since. 'Sajha Party' and Nepali Congress were reported demanding the government to take the issues raised by Dr. KC seriously and to protect his life abiding the agreements reached in the past, in the news. The Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation has accused Dr. KC for emotionally blackmailing the government.
 
The media has followed up every activity of Dr. KC from the first day of 'Satyagraha'. At first, Dr. KC was reported attending to the health problems of the citizens even in 'Satyagraha'. Later, the news reported that Dr. KC was rushed to the ICU of KAHS by police on Saturday night on the recommendation of the doctors involved in the treatment after his health was deteriorating. He was having a breathing problem. However, the news further reported that he refused to take treatment in KAHS as he was brought against his will. On Monday, Dr. KC was reported being flown to Nepalgunj from Jumla District and will be brought to Kathmandu at his will. He feared of erupting violencelike previous year in KAHS. The news in the media reported that the arrangements were made by the CDO as he refused to be treated in KAHS. On Tuesday, the news reported that Dr. KC was flown to Kathmandu and forcibly taken to the National Trauma Center from the airport by police. He was planning to continue his 'Satyagraha' in TU Teaching Hospital. After public condemnation everywhere, Dr. KC was moved to the TU Teaching Hospital in the late evening.
 
Next to 'Satyagraha' floods of the news, the media reported on the emergency situation caused in education by the Pandemic. There were many news on discussions about the 'Learning Facilitation Guidelines' issued by MoESTin the media. MP Gagan Thapa was reported giving 13 suggestions to the Minister for Education, including on 'the Guideline', issues of private teachers, enrollment and new curriculum of grade 11, the examination of grade 12 and on the result of thousands of students in this year's SEE assessment who are not allowed to be admitted in class 11 for not prescribed grade in SEE.
 
The media reported about the NEB recommendation for the government to conduct online examination worth 40 marks for each subject to Grade 12. According to the news, the 40 marks divided in 20 marks secured in online examination and 20 marks calculated based on the total marks obtained in grade 11 examinations. However, later NEB dismissed what the media has mentioned.
 
The Mid-western University has drawn up a schedule for the examinations of the 7th semester of undergraduate level and the 3rd semester of postgraduate level. Hand written   papers should be scanned and submitted online according to the media.
 
Figure: Students of Lumbini Buddhist University taking exams in Butwal_THT_17 SEPT
 
Some 95% of teachers and staff of private schools have not received salaries for six months and 3,000 were made redundant, the media reported in the news. The Institutional School Teachers’ Union (ISTU) has announced a phased agitation program with a 10-point demand made the headline.
 
The MoEST has made the 'Curriculum Adjustment Format' public with the aim of ending this academic session in mid-April.  They have also made the 'Contingency Action Plan on Education-2077’ public this week, according to the news. Considering the problems by the Pandemic in the educational sector, the plan was devised. The government has already issued Guidelines for learning through alternative methods from June 15 and a Guideline for student learning facilitation from September 17.
 
Stakeholders oppose provisions set in the Guidelines that allow private schools to charge tuition fees for virtual classes. They say the provisions stated in the Guideline contravene the constitution, that guarantees free education up to grade 12, the media reported. 
 
A blog stated that the Guideline has brought the opportunity to study the feasibility to expand digital education in community schools throughout the country for adopting the technology and global change.
 
As Guidelines are made public, the news reported that local levels in Kailali have begun preparation to resume teaching-learning activities in the district. Whereas, other news reported that students and parents were afraid of attending schools that were used as quarantine sites in Dang district. The news also reported that the teachers and students of community schools in Rolpa district were excited as the Municipality decided to re-open the schools as per the decision and directive of the MoEST. In the media, the Principal of Janata Secondary School, located at a remote village of Rolpa district was reported saying that the government has discriminated against students who have no digital access. He accused the government of not addressing the ground realities of the country in the Guidelines.
 
The news on the media also reported that with the effort of teachers in Machhapuchhre Secondary School in Machhapuchhre Municipality, Kaski district conducted classes before the government issued any instructions or guidelines. They were also reported making their own self-study material for students and have already sold study materials worth around Rs. 8 lakhs to the municipality and other community schools. They aim to distribute its textbooks to schools in other districts as well.
 
As the Federal Government mandated local levels to resume disrupted classes, discussion has begun on the mechanism to resume schools in every Local Levels.  Main problem is that the Municipalities have no staff competent to organize education. The Federal government delayed giving this responsibility. Now it will take time before it takes shape. There is hope that this responsibility will be continued to be given to the municipalities.
 
'Education this Week' is a joint effort to analyze the press coverage of education in Nepal’s selected print and online media published in Kathmandu. This week, reports included online portals SetoPati, NayaPatrika and My 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 and online news portal SetoPati, NayaPatrika and My Republica between 16-22 September, 2020 (31 Bhadra-6 Ashoj, 2077) - Editor.