आइतबार, ३० असार २०८१
English शिक्षामा गत साता

News shifts : VC Appointment to Municipality Activities

The decision makers of local government need to think why even those who can hardly afford private schools enroll their children in private schools instead of free public schools.

मंगलबार, २२ फागुन २०८०

Kathmandu - This week educational news reviews last two weeks (Feb 17 - March 1) for practical reasons.

While the educational news that has been published and aired focused  the appointment of a new vice-chancellor (VC) of the Tribhuban University (TU), the postponement of the VC selection process in the Midwestern and Farwestern universities the last last week.  It concentrated on the efforts undertaken by the local governments for the improvement of school education the last week.

On the basis of four-year work plans, concept papers and interviews, the TU VC Selection and Recommendation Committee (VCSRC) recommended Pro. Dr. Chitra Bahadur Budhathaki, Pro. Dr. Keshar Jung Baral and Pro. Dr. Tanka Nath Dhamala for the post of VC of TU. The ex-officio Chancellor of the University Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has appointed Pro. Dr. Keshar Jung Baral as the VC among those recommended.

The news carried  that the newly appointed  VC announced to improve TU with  the  enforcement of the academic calendar,  conducting exam results on time, restructuring of the Faculties of Education and Humanities, converting  the structure of academic Departments into Schools, shortening under graduation study from four to three years, offering student-centered educational programs and starting new academic programs including the Ayurveda, the Amchi (traditional Tibetan system of medicine), connecting the courses with the labor market. He also vowed not to take both salary and pension. 

'An academic culture in the university can be developed if the protest and riots stopped' the statement of the newly appointed VC of TU Pro. Baral made the news. It is mentioned in the news that he urged the political parties not to interfere in punishing those who commit criminal activities in the university premises and harm the institution.

It was mentioned in the news that the VC of Midwestern University Pro. Dr. Nanda Bdr. Singh completed his four-year term without putting a step in the office. Even when VC Singh was leaving the university after his tenure was over, his office padlocked by the protesters could not be opened. Even after Dr. Singh's departure, there is news that the part-time teachers of the university have locked all the offices of the departments of the Central campuses.

There was news that the VCSRC of the Eastern University is evaluating the work plans and concept papers of the applicants while the VCSRC of Mid-Western and Far-Western Universities decided to stop all the selection processes including the call for applications for VC post of both universities in the meeting of VCSRC held on February 18th. It was alleged that the process has been stopped as the ruling party-affiliated individuals are not likely to be selected under the criteria that gives high weightage to the research to become the VC. In the both universities, 9 people each have applied to the posts.

There was other news that the entrance exam for postgraduate level was to be held again in TU. After low number of students was enrolled, the Dean's Office of the Faculty of Humanities and Sociology issued a notice for another entrance examination on March 9, mentioned the news. 

There was news the PM saying that the Federal School Education Bill brought by the government would be amended and passed to meet the demands of teachers. It was mentioned in the news that the Bill to be passed so that the agreement with the teachers and the school staff will be implemented. 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Devraj Ghimire, has also said that theEducation Bill will be passed by the Parliament soon, mentioned in a news.

The Federal School Education Bill (FSEB) under discussion in the Health, Education and Communication Technology Committee (HECTC) of the House of Representatives is under the influence of few vested interested groups. Among them the lobby of private school entrepreneurs and the union of teachers of the major ones that have significant bearing. Although the constitution states that school level education will be under the purview of local governments (Municipalities), the teachers have been refusing to be governed by them with various excuses. Not to be 'subordinated' by the local governments is one of the important demands of the teachers. It is against federalism and in the interest of democracy. Political leadership should not make statements that violate the provisions of the constitution to please the interest group. Children and the country will have to pay the price for pleasing the interest groups. Therefore, it is necessary for the political leadership to focus on the professional development of teachers as well as the quality of children's learning while formulating the Bill. Overlooking the free and compulsory basic education for all provision of the constitution, the government already withdrew the provision of transforming the private schools running in non-profit mode (as Public Education Trusts) in five years. Overwhelming number of amendments have been filed in the committee to bring that provision back while the leaders have been making extra-constitutional deals with the interest groups.  
According to the Ministry of Social Development of the Karnali Province, the news that there are 157 schools with less than 10 students in the Province was also published during this period. There was news in Kantipur that even though there are zero students in some schools, the teachers have to be paid. It is mentioned in the news that the figure of how much the government is spending on these schools is not with the Ministry as the budget goes directly to the Municipalities from the Federal Government.

Because of the migration for various reasons certainly education being one of the major ones, not only Karnali but all over the mountains and hills, the number of students in rural schools is rapidly decreasing. Even parents who live there send their children to private schools. The government does not seem to take the seriously declining number of students in public schools. Ironically, tendency is to increase the number of buildings in government schools even when the number of student is decreasing as the confidence of parents in the government schools across the country is low. If government schools fail to earn the trust of parents, these schools will turn into structures that become centers of employment of teachers and staff instead of educating children. There is a need to think and plan schools in new light rather than revolving around the issues of shortage of teachers. Mapping and zoning of schools is a prime need besides the use of new technology.

Similarly, in other news, it was mentioned that after the closure of public schools due to the lack of students, the children of northern Ilam bordering India, go across the border to study in Indian schools. After the closure of primary level schools in the high altitude area of Ilam, Jaubari, Tumling, Magma, Alebhanjyang, Noonthala, Ingla, Gauribas, Kamalpokhari etc., the children are reported to have gone to study in nearby Indian schools.

As soon as the number of students is low, the government merges schools and cuts the number of teachers; the residents of the remote villages of Ilam have been deprived of their right to education and are forced to go to nearby Indian school to study. The government needs to be aware of the fact that thousands of children will be deprived of going to school if they close schools based on the number of  students in hilly areas without ensuring that children get the opportunity to study.

Similarly, there was news that the scholarship that the Karnali Province government has been providing to female students for higher education in Jumla, Humla, Mugu, Dolpa and Kalikot  remained unspent due to impractical distribution procedure. It is mentioned in the news that in order to get a scholarship, one should study in an educational institution of Karnali Province while studying higher education in a technical field. 

Parents facing problems due to the fact that children with autism are not allowed to be admitted to early childhood development classes and even if they are admitted, they have to pay double fees than other children, news reported. It has been mentioned in the news that although every school charges different and expensive fees in the name of enrollment and monthly fees, the relevant agencies do not monitor them. Even though there is a rule that there should be no discrimination against children with different abilities including autism, the school charges expensive fees, the government agencies did not do any care, the complaints of the parents are covered in the news.

It is noteworthy that people in general demand for the reduction of fees in private schools. Parents do not demand such provisions in public schools or make effort to improve the situation of public schools in the country. It is normal that those for-profit schools demand more fees for autistic children as they need more care. 

An article about learning gap of school children had been published in this period. The quality of school education has deteriorated, saying that the students in the school have not even learned to read and write and they are kept promoted. It is mentioned in the article that the teachers are lazy in teaching and learning, do not pay attention to quality improvement but they keep changing students' uniforms. Such conditions are being observed because there is no monitoring by the Ministry of Education and the agencies under them.

It was mentioned in another news that there is a trend of hiding teacher's positions (darbandis) at the school level by using political and administrative favors. It has been reported in the news that 25 positions have disappeared at the lower secondary level this year due to the collaboration of schools, municipalities and teachers.

In Haripurwa Municipality of Sarlahi, there was news that the teachers and staff of the community school closed the school and staged a dharna in the Municipality because they have not received their salary since July. Due to the closure of all 16 community schools in the Municipality, the studies of 5K students, including those preparing for the SEE, final examination of class 10, have been affected.

Schools have remained closed for several months in more than a dozen Municipalities of Madhesh Province had also been reported before. The schools are closed because they have not been paid. They have not been paid because in most cases Municipal Assembly could not be held due to the conflict among municipality leaders. Sometimes, the teachers also align to one of the parties and complicates the matter. However, even when schools are closed for weeks, there is no initiative from anywhere to resume schools. Children of local political leaders and the teachers send their children to private schools and the schools where the children of ordinary people study remain closed for weeks, but there is no voice from anywhere, but this trend continues. This is a vivid picture of the effects of private schools. Were children of anybody involved were in public schools, there would have been a public uproar. This also fuels the idea that Municipalities are not capable of managing schools and this right needs retraction. Looks like, this is not an issue for federal leaders and the bureaucracy of the Ministries is watching a tamasha!  

There was news that 2.9 percent of school-age children are out of school in Bagmati province. Similarly, in Rautahat's Chandrapur Municipality, there was news that most of the basic level schools do not even have general infrastructure. It was mentioned in the news that there are problems of classrooms, drinking water and toilets in 400 basic schools in all 18 municipalities of the district.

There was news that Chandeswori Basic School located Aamdanda of Aabukhaireni Rural Municipality (RM)-4 has established a nursery of vine vegetables to provide practical skills to the students under the 'learn while earning' program and sold 400 saplings produced there. There was also a news that Ambukhaireni RM of Tanahun has ruled that children of teachers and staff working in the Municipality should study in community schools (meaning not in private schools). It was reported in the news that the rural municipality has also introduced a plan to provide free health insurance to parents and students who send their children to public schools.

This is not for the first time that local bodies have introduced rules that children of teachers and staff working in public institutions should study in public schools but these rules have rarely been enforced. It is important for the local governments to pay attention to increasing the educational quality of the community schools along with encouraging plans such as providing free insurance for parents and students who teach in community schools. Without parents' trust in public schools, students are not attracted by schemes such as insurance alone. Intentions of Municipalities can be understood: until children of the influential and ordinary people are at the same schools, the idea of improving public schools remains a mirage.  The decision makers of local government need to think why even those who can hardly afford private schools enroll their children in private schools instead of free public schools.

There was other news that Fidim Municipality of Ilam has installed CC cameras in 20 secondary schools (SS) in the municipality area and Mayor, Deputy Mayor and head of education branch have started monitoring the schools from their office. It was mentioned in the news that 4 CC cameras were installed in every SS.

There are a lot of efforts of schools being monitored by installing CC cameras and such work is also often carried in the media as an achievement. However, there is no consideration of the psychological and social effects of continuous monitoring on teachers and students. Experience and studies have shown that continuous surveillance has a dangerous effect on people's psycho-social condition. Such tasks are the indicators of diversion of focus of education from quality of learning. With such work, there is an experience of paying attention to frills instead of working to improve the quality of education although this may be an expression of concern that something should be done in this school.

The Adarsha SS of Rima Village in Annapurna RM of Myagdi had collected more than 10 lakhs to run the 'ICT Friday' program in the school. 

There was news that the Chair and Vice Chair Persons of the Melung RM of Dolakha have started visiting schools once a month and meeting students, teachers and parents asking questions about teaching and learning. It is mentioned in the news that they observe skills of teachers, use of educational materials, level of student satisfaction, regularity of teachers and students, availability of textbooks, and ask about the problems in schools. According to the news, the municipality has started this program with students of classes 9-12. Similarly, there was news that in Pashupati Kanya Mandir SS, girls' regularity has increased after the nurse dealt with the problems of female students along with counseling under the 'one school one nurse' program started in the school.

It is difficult to get admission in Saina-Maina Parameshwar SS in Sainamaina Municipality of Rupandehi. Even though the new academic session will start in two months, parents are already coming to schools to ask for admission, mentioned a news. It is difficult for new students to get admission also in Parroha SS and Pashupati SS located at Saljhandi of Sainamaina Municipality, as mentioned in the news.

After the constitution gave the right of managing school education to local governments, the efforts of few municipalities have started to show the results of improving quality of education in public schools. These examples show that local government is effective in improving school education than the government at distance. The reasons for improvement of quality in these schools need to be carefully analyzed because the circumstances of each school are different. There is some kind of upsurge in a few large public schools in the recent years all over the country. 

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has not been able to confer awards to the best students announced 5 months ago, published in the Gorkhapatra Daily. On the occasion of the National Education Day, on 17th September, the names of 962 people were announced to be decorated with various medals, but it was mentioned in the news that there is a lack of budget to acquire the medals.

Although there is no provision for external evaluators in the curriculum, the National Examination Board will send to schools external evaluators for Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Computer and Hotel Management subjects of class 12, a news mentioned.

There is news that teachers, parents and students of 7 schools in Chandannath Municipality of Jumla have been provided training to formulate School Improvement Plans (SIP). This is a prerequisite for asking for resources to the government and often this is prepared by a copying vendor as few know how to prepare one! 

'Education Last Week' is a joint effort to scan and analyze the press coverage of education in Nepal’s selected media. The main aim of this effort is to identify, enumerate and explain major education issues picked up by the media and give back and foreground of the news from the perspective of social justice and creative pedagogies. 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), have sourced  dailies Kantipur and Gorkhapatra (Nepali) and  The Himalayan Times (English), online  media OnlineKhabar, Setopati and Ratopati, and Himalayan TV and Nepal Television between 17 Feb-1 March 2024 (05-18 Falgun 2080) - the Editor. This time as mentioned the matter for two weeks is incorporated. 

Read this analysis in Nepali : स्थानीय सरकारका अभ्यास र प्रयासको भेल