EDITORIAL: Grandiose plan

As a result of poor education in public schools a large number of students have been enrolled in private schools which are very expensive

After implementing the Schools Sector Reforms Plan (SSRP) for seven years the Ministry of Education has envisaged implementing the Schools Sector Development Plan (SSDP) after 2016, and it will continue till 2022. The SSDP, a fully government funded programme, is a continuation of the donor-funded SSRP which, according to educationists, failed to achieve its goal. Aiming at implementing the SSDP for six years to come the Ministry of Education has also tabled a Bill to make eighth amendment to the Education Act in Parliament. The Bill has divided school education into two categories: grade one to grade eight and grade nine to grade 12. The existing SLC examination will be replaced by a national level exam to be held after grade 12. The regional level education will be held for the tenth graders to measure the students’ standard under a graded system fully introduced from this year. The SSDP has also envisaged imparting “soft skills” to students depending on their localities and climatic condition. The students of Mustang district, for example, will be given basic skill and training on apple farming while the students in urban areas may be given basic training on the use of computers.

The objectives of the SSDP are to provide quality environment and quality teaching and learning to the students who will be able to pursue self-employment at the local market or will be able to seek better employment opportunities abroad. It means that the SSDP will be fully students-focused. The government has plans of spending about Rs. one trillion for this programme. The donor-driven SSRP had focused on the development of infrastructure development such as giving training to teachers, providing text books free of charge and building an adequate number of school rooms. Now the SSDP will utilize these resources already in place.

Officials at the Ministry of Education admitted that the donor-driven SSRP had failed to achieve the goal of providing quality education to the students in community or public schools. As a result of poor education in the public schools a large number of students have been enrolled in private schools which are very expensive. Educationists say that quality environment and education could have been imparted even to public schools had the SSRP been implemented keeping in the mind the national requirement. The SSRP, however, helped increase the primary level enrollment up to 96.6 percent, which is a big achievement. But the dropout rate is still high at the lower-secondary and secondary level, and the SSDP must be able to plug into the existing trend. The SSDP has a grandiose plan to provide quality education to students at public schools by using modern information technology like three dimension images, videos and internet services even in rural areas. This sounds good. But the major challenges lie not in planning but in its execution. Most of the schools in rural areas lack access to electricity and trained teachers to operate the modern electronic gadgets that may help enhance quality education. It is an uphill task for the government to fully implement the SSDP as most of the already trained teachers are still unfamiliar with modern technology.

Eco-friendly vehicles

We need to desperately promote eco-friendly vehicles. As the number of vehicles using fossil fuels are increasing there is a need for such a provision. We could do with more two-wheelers and four-wheelers that run on electricity. Polluting vehicles should not be allowed to ply on the road. The old polluting vehicles should also be banned from operating. Amendments are sought in the Environment-Friendly Vehicle and Transport Policy – 2014 within the next three months. This would encourage the use of emission-free vehicles. Electricity run vehicles are feasible. Electricity which is eco-friendly could be used to run trolley buses, cable cars, ropeways and even railways.

The government should provide the necessary incentives so that more electricity run vehicles come into operation. Air pollution is becoming a major problem in the capital city and some other cities in the country as well. For this a detailed study has to be carried out in earnest. This is possible if we are determined to do so. We could do with more eco-friendly vehicles, even those which are run with solar energy.