Tuesday, 19 October, 2021

Position sharing based on political affiliation bad for education: Pokharel


It is said that education sector of Nepal was full of anomalies due to extreme politicisation of the academic institutions. Is it true? If so, what are your plans to control the politicisation in education sector?
Firstly, I want to clarify that there are two types of politics. One is fair politics and another is unfair politics. Fair politics does never do harm to education. It can help resolve the problems and bring the entire education sector in the right track.
Unfortunately, we have bad political culture and bad practices in education. The government has been trying its best to change such bad practices of education. Now, many people doing politics lack ability and skill. They do not work hard. They are doing politics as if it was business. This type of problem is in education and in other areas as well.
The main problem of education is the practice of sharing positions. This problem is mainly seen in teachers. Teachers run after parties seeking favoritism and protection, promotion and for other benefits rather than trying develop their own personal capacity. We are seeking quality teachers for quality education. We could not expect quality education from the teachers, who do party politics.
We require learning-oriented teaching methods, technology-friendly and updated teachers to ensure quality education. We have to remove old system and introduce new to bring about change in our education sector.
The government has drafted education policy to address these shortcomings. The education policy will be introduced immediately after the Chhat festival. Soon after the approval of the policy, we will endorse three acts, namely School Education Act, Higher Education Act and Technical Education Act.
Likewise, the government has been planning to make it mandatory to have technical skills even if a person wants to do politics. Only skillful politician could do fair politics. These all acts could bring about changes in education although it will take time for that.

With the implementation of federalism, school education has become the responsibility of local government. But many local levels are unable to manage the schools. They even failed to provide salary to teachers this Dashain. There are disputes regarding the appointment of teachers. What do you think will be right remedies for these types of problems?
Federalism is new for us. There is a federation of teachers recognised by the act. So, the federation has to hold talks with the local governments which are facing problems in managing teachers. The local governments have to provide salary to teachers in time.
Every government must be careful while recruiting teachers. Only quality teachers should be appointed. I want to say the respective governments have to recruit teachers from among the candidates who possess the teaching license.
Meanwhile, we have managed the problem of temporary teachers by taking examinations. So, all stakeholders have to keep in a mind that quality education is possible only from quality teachers. Now, we are planning to include a provision, according to which a person getting less than 50 marks cannot eligible to apply for teachers. Our friends leading local governments must not appoint teachers from their pockets. Quality education could not maintain from the appointment of 17 types of teachers. So, every local level must recruit only quality teachers.

Majority of Nepali students who go overseas for higher education do not return to Nepal even after completing their study. Do you have any plan to discourage this type of trend prevalent among Nepali students?
Many of them do return. Students with different natures go abroad for higher education. Students with certain nature return. Firstly, we have to create a situation so that all Nepali students can obtain quality higher education in home. We are wasting a huge amount of resource by sending our wards abroad for higher education. We have discussed this even in the Cabinet. We want to open the best colleges in Nepal. They can produce quality manpower with the feeling of nationalism. Our students must be perfect in Nepali language, maternal language, English language and computer education. Previously, a large number of students went abroad because we did not have sufficient institutions to provide quality education. But the trend of going overseas for study is decreasing now. At a time when the world has turned into a global village we cannot stop the trend. But if we ensure quality education along with job opportunities within country, students will not go abroad for the purpose.

There is a huge gap between public schools and private schools. How will this gap be narrowed down?
Public schools are the best and the first choice of the guardians and students across the globe. Public schools are the mainstream schools in the world. But our public schools are weaker than private schools. So, the government has launched a decade-long programme to improve public education for making our public schools as mainstream schools. Under this programme, we will provide grants to the schools which lack sufficient number of teachers, we will mobilise technical education graduates of universities as volunteer teachers. Likewise, the local governments have to merge schools through physical and students’ mapping and manage hostels and school buses according to requirement.
Now the problem is the children who are out of schools. Almost 313,000 children of school-going age were out of schools last year. Out of them, 254,000 children were enrolled last academic session and this year we have requested local government to enroll the remaining students by providing different schemes. Now 127 local governments have announced that they don’t have any child out of school. Still the government finds it difficult to enroll the children with disability. So, to address this problem, the government has decided to open residential model schools in all states. And we have already inaugurated such schools in five of the seven states.
We are also connected with literacy. We have declared 70 districts as fully literate. The remaining districts will also be declared fully literate soon. The government has been providing day-tiffin and is planning to print colourful textbooks. We are planning to provide sanitary pads in schools.

What are other problems facing our education system? And what you have been doing to address them?
Strengthening public education is one of the major problems and to address this we are preparing to launch a campaign. The gap between the quality of education provided in the rural and urban areas and the gap between haves and have-nots are the major problem of education.
Lack of technology-friendly schools and teachers, the teachers are not updated, schools don’t have own master plan, and lack of learning centric education are also the problems. These could be resolved after the introduction of the education policy.
To implement the new policy and acts all level of governments, community, schools and all stakeholders have to stand united. Only after that it could be succeed.

(By Manjima Dhakal)