Kathmandu - This week manipulation to give affiliation to private medical colleges, students taking actions for the injustices, 1000 private schools on the verse of closure, were reported. Other matters included technical education absent in 118 municipalities, fearless environment in schools, recovery of Covid Pandemic.
- News stated that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Education Minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha have started putting undue pressure in Kathmandu University and are attempting manipulation to give affiliation to private B&C Medical College in Jhapa by violating the law. A meeting of the Kathmandu University Assembly held in Baluwatar had decided to move ahead with the process of affiliation of the proposed B&C Medical College. Although the issue of affiliation was not on the agenda of the meeting, Education Minister had raised it in the meeting. Some attendees of the meeting were quoted stating that the education minister had only suggested that the affiliation process of private medical colleges should not be halted, but the minute stated approval of the affiliation of B&C Medical College. It also stated that the matter of affiliation to a medical college falls under the jurisdiction of the Medical Education Commission.
- Whereas, Dr. Govinda KC was reported stating that the affiliation process was illegal to decide for Prime Minister, Education Minister, Vice Chancellor of Kathmandu University and Director of B&C Medical College in another piece of news.
- Another news titled ‘University affiliations being granted rapidly under the pressure of the present education minister’ stated that the minister of Education instructed the officials of Tribhuwan, Pokhara, Purwanchal, Kathmandu and other universities to take forward the process of giving affiliations. The process of adding extra programs and subjects to 9 private colleges with foreign affiliations started, stated the news. Some articles also claimed that this affiliation pressure was to collect funds for political mobilization for the ruling political party.
Political connections of private medical college operators have been frequently published in the media. Many leaders of the political parties have their direct or indirect stake in the private educational enterprise.
Technical education still absents in 118 municipalities
- A piece of news reported that it’s been three years since the government announced the expansion and access to technical education in every municipality within two years. It reported that Technical Education is yet to reach 118 local government units, which is 16% of total municipalities. Sudhur Paschim Province is in best position with Technical Education in 84 out of 88 local governments, while Province 2 lacks behind the most among all provinces with 33 municipalities without Technical Education among 136 total municipalities.
These kinds of investigative reports based on researched observations by civil society organizations and media play an important role to aware communities. It also pushes government agencies to be more efficient in achieving its own targets.
- Other news included the Chief Minister of Bagmati Province stating at least one technical school would be opened in every local level in the province.
Students taking actions for the injustice of teachers
- News on students of Janata Secondary School in Laxmipurpatari Rural Municipality, Siraha padlocked the school and ward office demanding that the salary of teachers be released immediately was reported in the media. It reported that four teachers, who have been paid their salary through the school’s private resources, are on pen-down strike saying that they have not received their salary for the last one year. Students of the school have also supported the teachers and joined the protest. The students said they had padlocked the school as the teachers were demotivated and showed very less interest in teaching-learning activities as they were not paid salary for a long time.
- Another news stated that students of Juddha Secondary School of Gaur have padlocked the school for allegedly abusing students over a dispute related to fees. The students had reached out to the school administration to ask why the school had charged more fees than the government-fixed amount in Grade XI and XII. Agitating students padlocked the school after the school allegedly misbehaved with students who had gone to talk to the school administration about the exorbitant fees.
One Thousand private schools in crisis due to Pandemic
- News stated that Covid Pandemic has led to the closure of about 1,000 private schools with small investments in major cities. According to the school operators, a small number of students were enrolled when the schools were closed during Pandemic and reopened. The number of students in community schools in the city has increased and they are more likely to drop out of boarding schools stated the school principal. Stakeholders have drawn attention to the ministry of education to prevent closure of schools with proper policy. The MoEST on the other hand, stated that the issue of merging private schools registered under the Private Companies Act will be vested in the management committee of the school concerned. It was reported that the federal ministry could not regulate the schools as the authority to operate, support or regulate them as it was under the local government.
However, some of the private schools might have been closed as per Nepal Labor Act 2017 where the minimum wage of an employee is NPR 13,450 per month. Some private schools paying meager salaries to their teachers although charging their students exorbitant fees had been reported in the media previously.
Fearless environment in school
- News stated that the head teacher of Bhumi Basic School in Madi Rural Municiaplity-6, Kaski had held seven students hostage for the past two years to save his livelihood. The incident became public after the laborers’ working nearby complained to the police about the head teacher beating up the student, who was trying to escape from the school.
- An opinion article highlighted its concern on the recent incident of the teacher arrested for physical punishment to students expressing that it has been years that the community school teachers have been trained on how to teach yet the cases of physical punishment have not decreased.
- International news on abduction of students of a secondary school in Nigeria was continued this week. While the fear of another mass kidnaping of students in the region was also reported in one of the news, other news reported that 42 people including 27 students who were abducted two weeks ago from a school in northern Nigeria have been freed.
- News stated that during the permanent associate professor selection examination conducted by the Tribhuvan University Service Commission five years ago, they passed the exam only by copying the question sheet.
Figure 1 : A pictorial report of students sitting for day lunch in school premises in Shahid Pramod Memorial School in Mirjapur, Siraha. It was posted on 2nd of March, 2021 in Kantipur Daily.
However, it should be noted day lunch does not always attract children for regular classes. The fun learning environment of school with the physical amenities (such as green spaces, playgrounds) also add up as an important role in keeping students interested for learning and attending regular classes.
- Other matters covered in the media included an opinion article on relevance of distance medium education after Covid crisis, news on resuming of schools in Manang district after one year due to COVID, reconstruction of school in Dakshinkali under the grant assistance of the Government of India, and news on teachers outnumber students in Kakani Primary School of Sanghutar in Ramechhap Municipality. Media again covered the news on innovative loan support and practical entrepreneurship based technical education of Janajyoti Secondary School in Surkhet.
- An opinion article titled ‘Movements indifferent to education’ expressed that the needs of the 21st century call for preservation and protection of the fertile soil as the primary purpose of education but our present education system at best is hovering around counts of enrollment and exam results. It further wrote that however, with the advent of the federal system has contributed schools to be more active and responsive to the realities of society.
- Another piece of opinion article mentioned that distance medium education is very useful for people who are not included in the traditional higher education system due to professional involvement, economic deprivation, geographical remoteness or other reasons and are forced to drop out in between studies. It also wrote that online classes are much more relevant after the Covid crisis.
'Education this Week' is a joint effort to analyze the press coverage of education in Nepal’s selected print media published in Kathmandu (Online scanning was stopped due to the shortage of staff time from last week - apologies with the readers). 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) between 24 February- 2 March 2021 (12-18 Falgun, 2077) - Editor.