By Sheshkanta Pandit, Kathmandu, Nov. 11: Lack of inclusion and participation in the alternative education system is likely to increase the dropout rate of students in community schools in the country in the near future.
Concerned stakeholders warned that the dropout ratio could be alarming as many children were left behind and were not able to attend classes despite the provision of the alternative educational means through online, radio and television by the government.
Girls in direr situation
There is a high rate of girl student drop out at school level, said Suprabhat Bhandari, Chairman of Guardians Association Nepal.
Targeting this, the government has introduced the girl’s scholarship and other programmes for long. This year also, the government tried to address this in budget speech.
The government had announced to provide afternoon meal for students up to grade 5 in the community schools across the country to retain the students in community schools.
Likewise, the provision of free sanitary pads to 13,40,000 girl students of community schools across the country was introduced. It was to be provided through the local levels
Some 7.52 billion rupees was allocated for mid-day meal while 1.82 billion rupees was allocated to provide free sanitary pads. However, the allocated amount is yet to be utilized, because of lack of opening of schools owing to COVID-19 pandemic.
It has been estimated that the programmes brought forth by the government to attract girls in education and to minimize their absenteeism was not implemented this year. As a result, the impact is likely to be felt in coming days.
There is a problem of linking technology with the students staying at home due to COVID-19 pandemic and it has created problem regarding alternative teaching-learning method, said Bhandari.
Suprabhat Bhandari said, “If we cannot search for the reasons about why students are not attending classes this year, then its effect can be felt in coming years too.”
Girls in Nepal are dropping out of schools early because of early marriage, and the social concept that there is no need to educate girl and also because of lack of girl friendly latrine system.
Heremba Kandel, Principal at Bishow Niketan School located at Kathmandu, said, "Inability to participate in alternative classes and not being able to come to school for long time are likely to be the reasons for children drooping out of school in the near future.”
The impact of this year’s irregular schooling can be felt next year too, so the government needs to be concerned about this as well, he added.
It is said that there is lack of proper statistics on the rate of participation and non- participation of children in alternative education system.
Kandel said that the dropout rate would be reduced and children's education would be continued if the local non-governmental organizations could be made affiliated to the internet by making it accessible to all.
He believes that if the local government can provide with radio and make the radio systems effective, the alternative education system would be effective too.
Kandel also stressed on the need to open schools in areas where corona virus infection is low.
Technology friendly school is a need of the time
Babu Ram Thapa, Chairman of the Confederation of Nepalese Teacher, said that the dropout rate of students would increase next year as students could not come to the classroom this year.
He pointed out that to reduce the dropout rate, we all should be prepared and take some effective steps immediately.
As no more than 15 % of the students of community schools are linked in alternative teaching learning method, all stakeholders need to pay top attention to making learning easy for those who got left behind in this, said Thapa.
As this year budget is likely to freeze so the investment should be made to run the technological friendly schools and to make learning much easier and accessible to all students in the days to come, he said.
The CNT chair said that even the students who were not participating in the alternative method during this period should be promoted.