EDITORIAL: Follow the criteria

A university has the right to set its standard, and affiliated colleges must abide by the rules to ensure quality of education

Around 30,000 first semester students under the Bachelor’s programme in Management of Pokhara University (PU) have not been allowed to take their examinations following a row between the university and its affiliated colleges, which enrolled students scoring below grade ‘C’ in a subject in grade XI and XII. The first semester examination of the Bachelor’s degree in Management has been postponed thrice, following repeated protests by the affected students and affiliated colleges. Those students were supposed to have sat for the exams on March 14. The exams were postponed till March 29, and now the next date has been fixed for May 20. It is uncertain whether the rescheduled exams would also be held on that date. The problem came to light after the university decided not to register applications of those students who scored below grade ‘C’. As many as 344 students scoring below grade ‘C’ in the plus two exams had found admission in 42 colleges affiliated to PU six months ago.

It may be noted that PU had already notified the affiliated colleges that it would not register applications of those students who do not meet the minimum criteria. After the situation became tense in the affiliated colleges, the Executive Council and Academic Council of the university issued a notice on April 19, stating that they would not register the students with poor grades. All the affiliated colleges were familiar with the university’s rules, but they defied them. Other universities in the country also do not entertain students scoring poor grades. However, the private colleges enrolled the students, hoping to somehow register their applications prior to the examinations.

Those students who fail to meet the university criteria have already lost both money and time spent in college. The affected students have demanded that the colleges be punished for keeping them in the dark. Moreover, the university has directed its Examination Control Board not to register any students not meeting the criteria. PU has also threatened to scrap affiliation to any college that goes against the rules. PU Registrar Govinda Sharma Poudel has told the colleges to return the money they had collected from the undeserving students. Worldwide,  a university has the right to set its own rules and minimum criteria to enroll students in its courses. Undoubtedly, every student has the right to pursue an education in a good university or college, but s/he has to meet the minimum criteria set by a given university. Unless the university rules are strictly followed, the quality of education will be compromised, resulting in poor outcome of human resources. The newly introduced grading system in Nepal, especially in SEE (Secondary Education Examination), taken at the end of class X, does not mark a student as ‘failed’ or ‘passed’. But it is construed that a student scoring below grade ‘C’ is as good as failed. The poor scoring students must find options other than pursuing higher education in the universities. On the other hand, the affiliated colleges also should not go after money by enrolling weak students, and abide by the university rules in order to uphold academic dignity, standard and quality of education. After all, it is quality education that makes a country prosperous.

Paddy output

The country is hopeful of increasing paddy production by 19 per cent in the next five years after it saw a bumper harvest of 5.6 million tons this fiscal year, a 9.8 per cent increase over the previous fiscal year. A good monsoon not only impacts paddy production but also GDP growth. There is reason to be upbeat about meeting the target, as paddy productivity per hectare has improved over the years. And with better irrigation facilities and other agro inputs such as improved seeds, fertiliser and farm machinery, productivity can improve even more. Also, of the country’s 1.5 million hectares suitable for paddy plantation, a third of them have not been brought under cultivation.

A better harvest is, however, unlikely to slash rice imports worth tens of billions of rupees. This is because of the people’s preference for the imported long, thin rice. So if the country is serious about curtailing the import of rice, the staple diet of the Nepalis, then it must switch to producing the variety that the people want. Should rice production surge in the years ahead, there could even be a market for the polished long grains in the markets abroad.