Political Turmoil Overshadowed Education


Kathmandu - Last week Mister for Education Giriraj Mani Pokharel gave resignation due to rival factions among Ruling Party- NCP and this week PM has appointed Krishna Gopal Shrestha as new Minister for Education. It is mentioned in the various news that the ANNFSU, NSU and other student organizations have taken out a 'Masal Julus' (Torch Rally), whistle rally and other various medium of protest in various parts of the country calling the move of the President and PM as unconstitutional. They demanded restoration of the HoR and party unity.

An op-ed stated that Nepal's student organizations have neither a strong ideological base nor any reform program. No organization is agitating for a change in curriculum and educational programs that can address the future.  It looks like a bunch of chaotic people who beat up teachers in the name of the movement. Apart from addressing the demands and needs of the students, the only thing that is happening now is to arouse their disgust towards politics. The student body is now only a tool for some partisans to bake bread and fulfill their selfish interests. 

In addition to the appointment of the Minister and the student movement, this week amid the devastation of COVID, notable news and articles on school education and higher education were published in various media.

The nationwide survey covering 6,588 households with children from 524 Municipals conducted by Sharecast Initiative Nepal with support from UNICEF Nepal tracked the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic on children and families, reported in the news. It is stated that 20% of families reported that their children are not studying and families are selling assets to survive. Also, online classes are impacted by internet connection issues, and a significant number of children are not able to follow the classes. About 57% of the respondents with children using online studying/internet report experiencing difficulties. Only 49% of households are confident about sending their children back to school. Regarding 'Where children are studying, 70% of respondents reported that their children are studying on their own at home'.

Amidst the re-opening and closing of school due to the Pandemic, the news report stated that Teachers and students have found it difficult to run the school after being infected with COVID. It further stated most of the schools in the country are running classes in the school however maximum schools are not being able to maintain health standards like social distancing along with lack of hand wash, mask, sanitizer, water, and other health materials, stated the news.

The news on two schools operating despite decreasing temperature in Limi, Namkha RM, Humla district was reported. The teaching learning activities are continued there by lighting fire inside the classrooms, the news reported. The news on textbooks on local heritage and infrastructure prepared by Sisne RM, Rukum West district taught in classes after being included in the local curriculum was reported this week. 

As reported in the media, the exemption examination of Grade 12 students has started from December 31st. Students are able to attend this exam in their own school.
The news about uncertainty on the grade 11 curriculum continued this week. The news stated that there is a risk that the entire academic year could be lost, as the hearing of the writ petition filed in the SC to halt implementation of the new curriculum in class 1 and 11 is getting extended further.

In the news, in the session titled 'Reading and teaching hustle and bustle' of the ongoing Nepal Literature Festival in Pokhara, it is stated that course book is not enough as people are living with many illusions, limitations and narrowness, so it is necessary to read books out of school and colleges curriculum to get outside of it. 

A news report on agitating students at Juddha Secondary School of Rautahat district padlocked the administration and the principal’s office taking exception to the school’s act of charging fees in the name of running classes in English medium. Guardians were reported accusing the school for promoting discrimination and educational disparities among the rich and the poor.

This has been an accepted practice for many public schools in the past. Guardians coming together realizing the discrimination that such policy builds with in the school, is can also be considered as an indicator that the society is more aware of the discrimination privatization of education system can bring in the society. 

Another news report on private school teachers deprived of salary for months was also covered in the media this week. Majority of teachers working for private and boarding schools have not been paid on time and Nepal Teachers’ Federation is making this the main agenda of the upcoming agitation.

The news stating that TU continues to ignore part-time teachers’ demands was reported this week. It was reported that it has been seven days since hundreds of part-time teachers of TU, are stopping VC Dharma Kanta Baskota from entering his office as a desperate move on the part of agitating teachers to exert pressure on the university authorities to hold discussion with them on their demands, however TU continues to refuse to address the decade-long problem in the university.

In an Interview, President of Nepal Bankers' Association was reported stating that the education system that Nepal has adopted cannot produce entrepreneurs. He argued that Nepali youths have failed to receive loans for investment due to the poor educational system.

The Language Commission which is responsible for the protection, promotion and development of various languages, measuring the levels of development of different mother tongues and making suggestions to the Government on the potential for their use in education, and monitoring studying and carrying out research on languages, has been working for the collection of vocabularies and lessons, development of dictionary and recording the linguistic history of 31 near-extinct language. The languages with less than 100,000 speakers are regarded as near-extinct. The Commission has also recently recognized eight more languages- Rana Tharu, Nar Phu, Chum (Syar), Poike, Serake, Marek, Yakkha and Nawa Sherpa.

The foreign national, who has been living in Nepal since 2015 on a student visa and has been running a Dynamic Public School in Lalitpur's Sambu for three years to teach orphaned and economically weaker students, has been involved in Christian evangelism along with education. Similarly, foreign nationals will be expelled from Panchthar, Nuwakot, Chitwan and Kaski for living in Nepal and engaging in religious activities. According to the Immigration Department, 1,925 people have obtained study visas in Nepal in 2019, while in 2020, 196 people have been deported from Nepal.

Other news of the week are: The reconstruction of colleges and schools to be built with loans from Indian Banks and grants from the Government of India at a slow pace; After the closure of the educational institution during the Pandemic, the youth of Jhapa formed an agricultural group; a fire broke out at Bhavani Primary School, a model school in Tatopani RM-2, Jumla district around 10 AM on Monday destroying property worth Rs. 4.5 million; An op-ed stated that papers on Media and Digital Media should be arranged in sociology and anthropology courses; Nepal Sanskrit University forwarded an action plan to make Sanskrit education technology-friendly and Nepal Telecom was will be providing 'Pathshala CUG Seva' under the Contingency Education Plan 2077 implemented by the Government to school staff, parents and SMC members.

Abbreviations: ANNFSU- All Nepal National Free Students Union, NSU- Nepal Student Union COVID- Corona Virus Disease, HoR- House of Representatives, UNICEF- United Nations Children's Fund, RM- Rural Municipality, TU- Tribhuvan University, MoEST- Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, TUSC- Tribhuvan University Service Commission, NGOs- Non-Governmental Organizations, TUSC- Tribhuvan University Service Commission, CDC: Curriculum Development Centre, ECD- Early Childhood Development, PDF: Portable Document Format, UGC- University Grants Commission, NIC: National Information Commission, SAARC- South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, NCP- Nepal Communist Party, PM- Prime Minister, SEE- Secondary Education Examination, SC- Supreme Court, CPN-UML- Communist Party of Nepal-UML, VC- Vice Chancellor, CUG- Close Unit Group

'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. The main aim of this effort is to identify and explain major education issues picked up by the media and give back and foreground 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 23-29 December, 2020 (8-14 Paush, 2077) - Editor.

Read this analysis in Nepali : राजनीतिक खिचातानीले ओझेलमा शिक्षा