Better late than never

Many experts call for a rethink on the educational system. One goes for change in the system which produces educated unemployed in favour of a job-oriented variety. The argument is that in this increasingly globalised and competitive world, the quality of education has to be raised to international levels and the thrust of the government and universities should be on production of manpower capable of competing globally. It is often recognised that a situation where most people are uneducated and poor, or they are educated but unemployed, leads to frictions in the society. Many educationists therefore stand for education for all, a slogan also accepted by the government under the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but basic education for all had been announced by government years before this. A debate is also going on over public schools v private schools and whether the latter should be scrapped.

Nepali society and certainly its institutions and its experts are currently debating these and other issues, and the process seems to have been stirred by the great political change of nearly a year ago, which includes the need to uplift the marginalised sections in response to the changed needs. Even at the school level, the need for change has been realised for quite some time, but the delay in introducing reforms has been rather long. Hence the curricula always remain outdated in important aspects, the reforms always overdue, and products churned out by the education system always lack something vital, thus handicapping them in higher pursuits at home and abroad. Politics in education has emerged as one of the major obstacles to enhancing educational quality, particularly in government-funded institutions such as TU. The government’s failure for the past ten months to fill the vacant top slots in TU and other universities testifies to its lack of seriousness about education.

The government favours upgrading school education up to Class 12, which will be the last barrier of school education, after decades. When this plan is approved, school education will be divided into two levels — Primary and Secondary, the former up to Class 8 and the latter upwards to Class 12. The Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) is also reported to have introduced, subject to higher approval, two streams of education — vocational and general — for both primary and secondary levels. CDC officials think such measures will change primary education considerably. Other changes will make 40 per cent a minimum pass percentage and adoption of a comprehensive assessment system up to Class 7 will dispense with examinations. Sparing little children the stresses of examinations will fulfil a long-felt need. As primary education implies making pupils literate, it is supposed to be general, universal and rudimentary. Vocational training should start from secondary level from various viewpoints. Giving pupils uninterested in formal education the opportunity of vocational education at their tender age will raise questions about timing and appropriateness.