TOPICS : Ensuring quality in education
Education is essential for overall development. It is not only about equipping students with necessary knowledge, skills and expertise so that they can contribute to the development of the country but also ensuring social welfare.
Although educational development is a major concern and numerous educational institutions have been established across
the country, the quality of education has not improved. This can mainly be attributed to political interference in educational institutions that, instead of making educational institutions the place for academic learning, has commonly been used as a grooming ground for political cadres.
The management of primary schools seems to have lost competence partly because of an authoritarian top-down system without meaningful community participation. Nepal has been placing emphasis on ‘education for all’ since the past few years. However, primary schools, particularly in rural areas, lack basic infrastructure required for classrooms and teaching as well as learning inputs.
Studies indicate that about nine-tenths of primary schools in Nepal lack one or more of the above-mentioned facilities or inputs. According to a previous study, the language competence of primary school teachers was satisfactory for 36 per cent only. However, competence in other subjects was achieved by a small percent of primary schools.
Textbooks that are currently in use are unattractive, uninteresting and unimaginative. The authorities responsible for publishing and distributing books across the country have not done much to improve the situation, either. Despite a huge amount of money being poured in the sector, quality of education in public schools remains miserable. Political interference in local governance and thus in school management committees has made the situation worse.
It is widely recognised that community involvement in resource mobilisation and utilisation increases responsibility. This makes these institutions accountable to the community. Considering public schools’ poor performance, it is essential to increase public participation in education. It is necessary to make communities more responsible for managing and supervising such schools. This will help enhance performance of schools and raise the quality of education. The government’s recent decision to hand over the management of public schools to the community has been a positive step in this regard.
Time is now ripe to see whether quality of individuals graduating from our academic institutions is comparable to those from developed countries. The government should take measures to improve teaching and academic programmes, research and scholarship, staffing, buildings, facilities, equipment, services and environment, without which quality in education cannot be ensured. Generally, it calls for investment as well as commitment from all stakeholders. It requires transparency, internal self-evaluation and regulatory vigilance.