BHAKTAPUR, July 10 Teachers are to blame for poor quality education in public schools, a senior official at the Department of Education said on Friday. DoE Spokesperson Khagendra Nepal alleged that teachers (of public schools) were more involved in political activities than in classrooms, onto to contribute to degrade the quality of education in public schools. Talking to mediapersons, Nepal suggested that teachers should be selected purely through open competition. “The teachers selected by the Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC) through open competition from among thousands of applicants are competent and energetic,” he added. Despite huge investment in the education sector, the pass percentage of School Leaving Certificate exam witnessed only a slight increase this year with 47.43 per cent compared to 43.91 per cent last year. Bishwo Prakash Pandit, Secretary at the Ministry of Education, said credit for this achievement, however, must go to the fresh batch of teachers hired by TSC last year, who taught the SLC appearing students in the academic years 2014. DoE Spokesperson Nepal said the Education Act has envisioned only Nepal Teachers’ Union as the authorised teachers’ body, but there are unions and associations of teachers of almost every political party. “Teachers are more like political party cadres than an expert hired to teach students and share knowledge and experience,” he added. He also called for bringing the retirement age of teachers (60 years) and creating a separate post of headmaster in schools so that the headmaster rightly can manage the schools properly and make sure the teachers are in classrooms during school hour. The government is going to prepare an action plan to improve public schools’ education. He also sought the need of a high-power body, especially for the education sector, to take action on the spot against the faulty teachers and officers involved in malpractices and irregularities. Rs 250 million Japanese grant for SSRP KATHMANDU, July 10 The Government of Japan has decided to extend a grant assistance of Rs 249.9 million to the Government of Nepal, for the second year in a row, for the School Sector Reform Program. SSRP is a government programme aimed to reform school education by ensuring free and compulsory quality education to all school-aged students. A press statement issued by the Embassy of Japan in Kathmandu said that an ‘Exchange of Notes’ was signed between Suman Kumar Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Finance, and Masashi Ogawa, Ambassador of Japan to Nepal, on behalf of their respective governments amid a function held at the MoF. On the same occasion, the Grant Agreement was signed and exchanged between Madhu Kumar Marasini, Joint Secretary, MoF, and Tsutomu Shimizu, Chief Representative of JICA Nepal, the statement said. The statement added that JICA has also been expanding its assistance after the earthquake struck Nepal on April 25. It said that JICA is extending a follow-up cooperation grant to rehabilitate steel-framed schools in Dhading and Gorkha, where schools were damaged by the earthquake. Furthermore, JICA has made commitment to extend a loan assistance of 14 billion Japanese Yen for the reconstruction of school buildings damaged by the earthquakes. According to the statement, JICA has been providing support in the education sector under the global commitment of EFA (Education for ALL). JICA has built more than 9,000 classrooms in Nepal through Grant Aid supporting the government of Nepal’s commitment in achieving universal primary education for all children by the year 2015.