KATHMANDU: In a narrow room at the backyard of Bijaya Memorial Higher Secondary, Dillibazar, pre-primary teacher Sayara Shah is among about a dozen newly-admitted three to four year old kids to help them prepare to enroll in grade one.
Four benches, a wardrobe and discolored wallpapers which were pasted last year for class decoration, Shah said are yet to tempt the students with colourful decoration. Few baby cars, teddy bears and other playing materials are locked inside the wardrobe.
This is the environment in the class, commonly found in the government-funded schools. Department of Education initiated the concept of pre-primary or Early Childhood Development (ECD) in 2004 with the goal of Education for All by 2015. However the goals of developing the little ones holistically by the means of various types of joyful activities are more or less only in paper. The ECD is expected to prepare kids for grade one to enhance their sustenance in the schools.
Shah has taken two-weeks training in holistic development for the young ones. Though she learned the lesson of using play-method, the practice she is doing is different. On being asked why she deviates from the concept, she underlined the dearth of resources, while parents’ concerns are among others.
“Parents seek kids’ achievement of knowing letters, being busy with books and their notebooks for hours at home while doing homework as the main factor behind opting for the traditional approach of teaching them,” asserts Samjhana KC, ECD teacher at Bhimsen Lower Secondary School at Baneshwor.
Little ones are also expected to utter some English words which parents take pride in, according to KC. Section officer at ECD at Department of Education Sangita Dangal admitted parent’s expectations have misguided teachers’ performance in the school. “Parents have little knowledge of child development, therefore they should learn it well,” said children’s author Vinaya Kumar Kasajoo adding, “playing, singing, hygiene, behavior, language development are the major tasks the little ones are to do.”
There are 28773 ECD centres according to Department of Education.
Head-teacher at Bijaya Memorial High School Chameli Shrestha they can do only so much with the limited resources and paltry sum of Rs 1800 per month for the ECD teachers. “However we have planned for financing on our own to increase primary enrolment,” added Shrestha.
The burden of lessons is also similar to the private school pre-primary classes. Due to mounting pressure of the parents demand, said Shweta Sharma, ECD coordinator at Chelsea Int’l Academy, Baneswor, “Bringing the grading model in evaluation has become a challenge as parents only see the ranks among the kids.” The holistic approach is that the little ones should be recognised as equal rather than competitive type.