EDITORIAL: Ensure elections

The EC will have to do more to ensure that elections are held and the counting is also done in a free, fair and impartial manner without any security lapses

Nominations for the local level election in Province numbers 1, 5 and 7 under the second phase concluded yesterday in a peaceful manner. Candidates of all political parties and independent ones filed their nominations for rural and urban municipalities, the voting for which has been scheduled for June 28. There was a wave of enthusiasm of the people and the political parties for the nominations in the three provinces despite the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal’s calls for boycott and disruption, mainly in province numbers 1 and 5. Reports from these provinces said that nominations of candidacies for various posts went off peacefully due to heavy presence of security personnel to avert any kind of threats, disruption or intimidation from the RJPN and others who have vowed to disrupt the local level election being held after almost after a gap of 20 years. The local level election has already been held in Province numbers 3, 4 and 6 comprising 34 districts where results of 282 local level units have already been out and the result of the Bharatpur Metropolis has remained suspended as the Supreme Court has yet to give its final verdict on a case filed demanding recounting of votes in Ward-19 where 90 ballot papers were torn.

Under the second phase, elections will be held for 334 local levels – one metropolitan city, seven sub-metropolitan cities, 111 municipalities and 215 rural municipalities – in 35 districts. A total of 6,432,765 eligible voters will be electing 15,028 representatives who will function as a local level government for a period of five years, and the constitution has barred dissolving them prior to the expiry of their full term. A total of 8,364 polling centres and 4,581 polling locations have been set up to conduct elections in these provinces. The specialty of the local level election is that the political parties are required to file nominations with gender balance for the posts of chief/deputy chief, and they are also required to field women and dalit candidates for ward members. This provision will ensure equal representation of women, dalits and marginalized communities.

Looking at the people’s enthusiasm for the local level election, it is hoped that the second phase election will also be held peacefully. Reports from some districts suggest that even cadres of RJPN and Netra Bikram Chand-led CPN-Maoist have also filed their nominations in some rural municipalities, defying orders of their party high command. It shows how eager the people are about taking part in the election process which will not only institutionalize the hard-earned achievements of all movements included in the constitution but also empower them at grass-roots level. However, the Election Commission will have to do more to ensure that elections are not only held in a free, fair and impartial manner but  even counting of the ballot papers is also done in a fair manner without any security lapses. The EC must also deploy additional human resources to count the ballot papers so that results can be announced within a couple of days after the election. The EC must pay due attention to provide foolproof security to the returning officers and party representatives witnessing the counting of votes.

Teachers to blame

That the education sector is in doldrums can be seen from the performance of students in this year’s Secondary Education Examination (SEE) which was worse than that of last year. It would not be right to blame the new grading system for this debacle. Instead the teachers should take the blame for this for they are unable to change their traditional mind-set. Furthermore, now that no students would fail under the SEE the teachers are not under pressure. What is required is the active participation of the school administration, parents and the students as well so as to improve the performance of the students in these examinations.

Many teachers are not competent to teach and some of them have become teachers through political affiliation to the political parties. Moreover, the performance of students was poor in some subjects like language and literature due to the unavailability of teachers to teach these subjects. Last year three per cent of the students had secured A plus as compared to this year when only 2.26 per cent of the students secured this grade. Something is gravely wrong with the school education system in this country.