10+2 education An agenda for reform
Mana Prasad Wagley
The kind of higher secondary education we have is only exploiting the students in the name of
Higher secondary education in Nepal was started with HSE Act passed in 2046 during Panchayat regime with the aim to establish 10+2 schools in every possible place throughout the country. The Act considers grades 11 and 12 not as the lower level of college education but the upper secondary school level classes. However, in preparing the HSE regulations it was a little distorted and the provision of 1-12, 6-12, 9-12 and 11-12 was open. This was the beginning of the commercialisation of higher secondary education. Most of the higher secondary schools are no more schools, they are academies or colleges. The approval of stand-alone 11 and 12 grades opened the door to the businessmen to cash it. That’s why one can find the mushrooming of these colleges in urban areas amid unhealthy competition among business holders.
The question of equity and the right to get education after SLC all went in vain. Now there are 911 higher secondary institutions throughout the country leading to the certificate of education, humanities, commerce and science. Most of the science and commerce colleges are centred on the urban areas with an average pass rate of slightly over 50 per cent a year. Whereas the education and humanities colleges, having concentration more on rural or sub-urban areas, have been able to gain a pass rate of below 30 per cent a year. The statistics show that the HSEB conducts examinations for around 300,000 students a year more than the TU conducts for its Proficiency Certificate Level.
The controversy about the parallel system of PCL and HSE is still an issue. Sometimes the authorities talk of phasing out PCL, sometimes they talk about academic phase-out by applying the same curriculum to both levels or even continuing both the levels unchanged. Whatever the case, quality counts most and if PCL level is not going to change there is no use for this level where students of the 21st century are getting education of the 60s. That is why there is a committee constituted to see the possibility of integrating HSE and PCL curriculum now.
The question is, will TU departments and subject committees accept the integration of curricula? The issue here is not accepting or rejecting, it is the super ego of the TU professionals that they think they can only decide and others cannot. It is acceptable to them to copy and implement curricula prepared by people from other countries but they cannot accept the curricula prepared by the TU professionals for HSE. The main question here is, Should we continue PCL or move towards the international scenario? We have been copying three or four years’ Bachelor’s degree courses simply because we want to compete with other countries, then why not accept the 10+2 with the same reason? In many countries students passing the PCL need to submit the equivalence from HSEB, which was a reverse case before. This indicates that international community understands the language of higher secondary and not that of PCL.
Another issue raised by the implementation of higher secondary education is the relevance of SLC examinations. Should we conduct SLC and grade 12 exams in the same fashion we are doing? Or is it time to manage a single exam at the end of grade 12? The question is not about examinations; it is the national policy about secondary education. Does the government consider grade 12 as the last grade of secondary education? Educational policy and development plans all indicate that higher secondary education is simply an extension of secondary school. If so, why delay making decision on its structure, curriculum and examination policy?
It is time to manage SLC at the regional level and recognise it as equivalent to the existing SLC. Furthermore, SLC should be made district level examinations in the future. Attention should now be concentrated on expanding all 2000 secondary schools of Nepal into 10+2. This is what the equity means in HSE that every citizen of Nepal can study HSE level at a subsidised rate. The 10th Plan envisions 205 such schools by 2007. The HSEB is preparing to establish 14, one in each zone in 2005 academic session, continuing it for three years having one each in each district by 2007. This is a positive step towards equity. Otherwise the kind of higher secondary education we have is only exploiting the students in the name of privatisation.
Another issue related to the higher secondary education is its goal. The goal now is twofold: one is to prepare students for higher education, and the other is to produce middle level manpower for the country. The second goal has not been addressed to the extent the first goal has been. To come up with the solution of HSE and employment, it is already late to have technical higher secondary education. The best way to conduct technical education is to associate HSEB with TEVT sector first and then accredit the TEVT programmes run by CTEVT and other private sectors. Then a student passing core courses of the HSEB and completing the remaining from the TEVT sector can be easily given the technical higher secondary certificate. This will immediately start technical education at the higher secondary level without extra investment and the job market will find trained semi-skilled manpower. The other benefit is that it will generate an open door policy between general and technical education.
Dr Wagley is professor of education, TU