Last month, Parliament passed the most infamous Education Bill. Stakeholders argue that the bill will push back the public education system by 25 years. The bill directly ensures that almost twenty-six thousand temporary teachers will get permanent entry into public schools, while it does injustice to 7 lakh teaching license holders who could be filtered on the basis of capacity and quality and be brought into the public education system.
Public education in Nepal has always passed through dire situations. When the Ranas introduced formal education in Nepal, being inspired by Europe, we were three centuries behind than India, where the Jesuits had established their first college in 1542.
In a country like Nepal, where we celebrate just one spot down in HDI rank, the major goal of our education system should also be revisited. Our education system must reduce the disparity between the rich and the poor. At one event in Nepal’s oldest school, Durbar High School, Juddha Shamsher said: “I mean by it [education] is some sort of training that will enable you to stand on your own legs and solve the problem of bread and butter by your own efforts.” But, our education system stratifies the graduates themselves, one being produced from the public schools and the other from private schools.
During the war, Maoists ran ‘model people’s schools’ with an objective of encouraging students “to adopt a materialistic way of thinking, develop self-confidence, free themselves from blind tradition and superstitions, become laborious, honest and self-reliant.” The Maoists somehow managed to practice this utopian education in the western hilly regions, however, their textbooks replaced government books with A as Army, G as Gun and R as Rifle.
The 1950s democracy brought private investment in education. Nepal’s public spending on education is impressive as well. But, several policy debates such as enrollment, inclusiveness and dropout rate have to be addressed. Our formal education doesn’t provide students with survival skills and vocational training.
Also, there is a huge difference in the quality of the education being provided in public and also in private schools. While there is no standard scale to examine the quality of education, most people agree that the quality of education can be tested on the basis of marks secured by students.