Overdue reforms

Government employees, leaders and politicians, as well as teachers of community schools, send their wards to private schools

Four decades ago the government took control of all public schools that had been run by locally constituted school management committees consisting of important local people. At that time, with the introduction of the New Education Plan, individuals or groups were permitted to set up and run schools with profit motive, and the private schools that started mushrooming continue to increase in number. But the result of these two acts has been the continuous deterioration in the quality of education of public schools. Now mostly only those who cannot afford at all even the cheaper private schools send their children to public schoolS, whereas in a number of countries in the world, only a very small percentage of the school-going children go to private schools.

To make matters worse, teachers and staff of the public or community schools have been permitted to become members or activists of the various political parties and their sister organizations, and to carry the agendas of those parties, and on the strength of party influence, they have been neglecting their prime duty of teaching and engaging actively in the academic activities of the schools concerned. Before the government’s takeover of the public schools, the rich and poor of Nepal all used to go to public schools. Community schools have stopped attracting students. Political involvement of teachers is often blamed for the deteriorating quality of the community schools, as also done by the spokesperson of the Department of Education in Bhaktapur on Friday. This is largely true. And DoE cannot change this situation alone, unless the political parties themselves come to realize the extent of harm they have been doing to the education system as well as to the future growth and development of the country by making teachers their cadres.

The overall performance of the community schools in the School Leaving Certificate examinations this year has been the same as before, disappointing, with a pass percentage of one-third of their examinees, whereas the result of the private schools comes to 89 per cent. This wide gap is made all the more glaring if the percentages of students securing distinction and first division are compared. Yet another powerful reason for the attraction of private schools is that the medium of instruction is English whereas it is Nepali in government schools, except for a small number of cases. It is also noteworthy that a very small number of community schools have performed well in the SLC examination this year; but the performers have made reforms. The community schools have suffered also because of the recruitment of mediocre or even unfit teachers through political and other influences in the post-1990 multiparty era in thousands of numbers. Government employees and leaders and politicians, as well as teachers of community schools, send their wards to private schools. This also has to do with the poor quality of community schools. Reform in all these sectors and more, including a sound policy of reward and punishment, is required if we are to lift the community schools out of their pitiable condition.

Moral turpitude

Fake earthquake victims are on the rise due to poor monitoring mechanism at the grass-roots level. Reports from the quake-affected areas suggest that many people who were not actually affected by the natural disaster have received relief assistance in cash or kind posing themselves as victims. Recently, the Kavre district administration has ordered the local police to book as many as 50 persons for receiving the relief funds in the name of quake victims. The reports said that 25 persons in the Panchkhal Municipality and others in Mahadevisthan VDC had received Rs 15,000 each as the first lot of relief assistance by making fake identity cards.

It was found that the fake quake victims managed to collect the relief assistance after some local leaders of ruling parties recommended the earthquake victims ID by which they managed to receive the assistance. The local people have demanded action against those involved in the racket. It is moral turpitude on the part of the local-level political leaderships to recommend ID card for those not affected by the disaster.