Early childhood development is an indispensable component of a broader primary educational structure. Countries in the West have inducted newer teaching techniques for better development of children’s mental as well as physical faculties. Nepal too has been conducting similar research in a bid to find out innovative teaching techniques for those in the primary level with help from UNICEF for eight years now. But schools in Kathmandu are yet to induct those techniques developed for Nepal by the Research Centre for Educational Innovation and Development (CERID). A conference is to be held in the last week of April on the topic. There is no doubt the participants will have a lot to discuss about it. But one wonders how different is this effort from many other educational projects which have failed to produce satisfactory results.
To discuss findings of a research tested in controlled environment is one thing while implementing the results in schools most of which have been transformed to cowsheds is quite another. Add to it the woes of insecurity, serious teacher and textbook shortage, dwindling student numbers, and in some cases, shared classrooms and the actual scenario becomes difficult to imagine. Most of those projects launched to prop the weak education sector in Nepal have failed. The seminar this time aims to “inform around 1,000 students” on the importance of early childhood development. That attempt, however, is an incomplete one. In fact, it is not very useful to “inform” school students or parents at a seminar about the findings of a research that has been conducted for eight long years. What would be a more worthwhile effort would be to induct those training methods into the classroom. It takes rigorous effort under guidance of a trained teacher for a student to derive benefit, if at all, from such techniques. Seminars are for the researchers and teachers in the field who can actually act as a bridge to take the new findings to the classroom. If the gathering succeeds in doing that, only then could it be labelled a success.
Amid all the discussions, it would also make sense to deliberate why native schools are still happy to go by the old techniques. That is not to acknowledge the fact that some schools in the country have inducted Western teaching models which are quite a deviation from the majority of the prevailing techniques, but nonetheless useful. Like many other researches from CERID that have benefited the education sector, the early childhood development services too need to be accommodated. Though resource constraints have long been blamed for the inability to do so, that cannot serve as an excuse any longer.