Is it a determined TU? The case of the certificate level
Delivering Improving quality education has been the main agenda in any part of the world
where education is valued. Nepali politicians also raise the same voice time and again. There have been a great degree of tension among the technocrats, the bureaucrats and the politicians in the past over the same issue.
In 1990, the Higher Secondary Education Act was passed in order to make school education encompass 12 years. Considering the same principle, the Ministry of Education, the Higher Secondary Education Board and the Tribhuvan University signed an agreement on September 5, 1993 to phase out Proficiency Certificate Level from
Tribhuvan University. From that day on the TU has not given further affiliation to run proficiency certificate level classes to any college. Despite that understanding the years passed with the issue of phasing out PCL was discussed in various fora, but the continuation
of PCL in TU campuses is still on. It is ridiculous that nothing in the direction has materialized despite 16 years of that agreement.
The political parties and their sister organizations are keen not to phase out PCL from TU because that level is the most fertile ground for their politics. If one can recall the discussion in the House of Representatives a decade ago, the lawmakers insisted on keeping the certificate going sans any moral ground whatsoever. Time and again the same issue is raised but PCL has not been discontinued. In the name of phasing it out, the TU has not given due attention to this level. Ironically, TU is running this level to satisfy the politicians’ need and not the students’.
In the past, exercises have been undertaken to decide the fate of PCL and to implement 12 years of school education throughout the country. Attempts were made to implement the same curricula in both the PCL and HSS levels. A higher level committee was also formed under the leadership of TU Rector and decisions were made in this regard. However, TU could not implement the decision because of its teachers’ politics. The same teachers mobilized their students and the students took the issue to the streets.
The University Grants Commission attempted for this by providing 17 constituent campuses a lump sum amount of one lakh dollars each .All the selected campuses got the money but only 3 campuses were successful in phasing out PCL from their campuses although they were targeted by the political parties and their students’ wings at that time. Stones were pelted, destructions were made, and both the parliament and street were heated just to politicize the matter.
What benefit is there from running the PCL classes except for the nominal tuition fees from the students? This can be managed even at the HSS level. What benefit is there for students studying the curriculum of the 1960s in the 21st century? No attempt has been made to raise the standard of PCL at least for 20 years. What benefit is there running the PCL which is hardly recognized in India and abroad? Many PCL pass students are now denied admissions abroad. It is mere foolishness to push 10th graders to University run programs now. Almost all sections of the world run 12 years (in some cases 13 years) of school education. The Universities take admissions from Bachelor’s level. How can we meet the international standard if we still insist that PCL should be run by the universities?
The Interim Plan accepts 12 years of school education in Nepal. The recent Education Policy document of School Sector Reform has already been given a nod of approval from the cabinet that also is moving in the same direction. The Tenth Plan was in the same direction. All these indicate that the policy makers are convinced that PCL should be transferred to school education portfolio. So, why this hue and cry?
However, one thing must be considered-the students’ fees. If the policymakers are serious about implementing the intent of the constitution they have to bring the issue of free education to school children (grades 1-12) rather that politicizing the PCL issue in the streets.
If the government is not ready to make school
education free up to grade 12 then a new avenue should be sought. Another agreement among the MOE, HSEB and TU can be
made. Let the PCL-run TU campuses enroll students under HSEB curricula, let TU provide its PCL teachers teach in the same campuses; let students pay the amount that they are paying now; and let the MOE through Ministry of Finance provide the subsidy amount to the campuses to meet the minimum cost until we become able to make school education free. This sounds a little awkward but it solves many problems.
First, it solves the fee problem of the students; second, it gives a big relief to TU about where to use the PCL teachers where they have no classes in the upper level; and thirdly,
it helps the government resolve the PCL phasing out problem forever. Moreover, the existing PCL level teachers, who will be teaching HSEB curricula, should be allowed to appear for TU Service Commission Examinations for their career promotion.