The education sector in Nepal is dogged by disparity, inadequate infrastructure and resources, paucity of funds, lack of trained teachers and countless other anomalies. One of these is the regular tampering of policies without debating the strengths and weaknesses of existing as well as the ones in offing. Such arrangements have often served short-term objectives. An ad hoc arrangement and ever-changing priorities have encouraged disparity at different levels. Less than half of those enrolled complete the primary education cycle. Only 10 per cent of students entering grade one reach grade ten and less than half of the secondary level students appear in the SLC exams. With a view to increasing the overall quality of education, the government is once again set to formulate a new policy to empower community-managed schools. It is also expected to address the imbalance in the teacher-student ratio by handing over authority on the matter to the local bodies.

The idea, if implemented in right earnest, is praiseworthy. Provided the education department backs its effort with adequate funds and technical expertise, the communities can transform the schools from rundown sheds into credible learning centres. The centralised system of teachers’ appointment has not helped. But with authority being given to the headmasters and the management committees to appoint the teachers, the community schools could very well flourish. However, that may not occur if human as well as material resources are in short supply. In these days of open market system, the horizontal bar for education is set very high. Policies formed and shelved at the drop of hat in Nepal have not helped in this pursuit. With foreign employment and remittances supporting the national economy and with Nepal likely to become a corridor for flow of goods and services between India and China in not too distant a future, the education sector has to be revitalised so that it produces skilled manpower capable of deriving benefits from the emergent new opportunities. If learning foreign languages is important, no less vital is the need for value education. It is time a firm, effective and institutionalised education system is allowed to replace the present one. The community-schools must be designed to emerge as examples of an effective and reliable system.