Govt ill-prepared to ensure free school education

Published On: July 28, 2016 02:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, July 28: The government has not made adequate preparations to ensure free education up to grade 12 at public schools as provisioned by the new Education Act.

The eighth amendment to Education Act 1972 was approved by the Parliament about two months ago. The act provisions free school education up to grade 12.

However, the government has yet make necessary preparations for ensuring free school education, said officials at the Ministry of Education. “The government must open public schools in parts of the country that lack them and provide them with staff to ensure free education,” they added.

The amended act provisions two categories of private schools--new ones under trusts and old ones under company, free education upto 12 Class, transfer of teachers as civil servants and evaluation and promotion of teachers on the basis of school results, according to the MoE. It also scraps the Higher Secondary Education Board, integrates Plus Two level into School level education and sorts out decades-long problem of temporary teachers.

Suprabhat Bhandari, president of the Guardians' Association of Nepal, said that there were no measurements adopted to guarantee free school education. “The old Act provisioned free education upto Grade 10. But it was not practiced effectively. How can the government ensure free education upto Grade 12 without sound preparation?” Bhandari wondered.

 Hari Prasad Lamsal, spokesperson for the MoE, admitted that there was not sound preparation for ensuring free school education. “The government should include providing grants and teachers to these schools in the fiscal budget. However, it has not been addressed in the current fiscal budget. Free education for Grades 11 and 12 is not possible for at least one year,” he added.

On the other hand, the new Act keeps mum on the federal structure and system regarding the education sector. At a time when some 500,000 students are eligible to pursue their higher education, there are only 3,669 higher secondary schools across the country.

The National Examination Board has been formed instead of Higher Secondary Education Board, and Class 10 exams will be taken in regional/province level while the exams of Class eight will be conducted by the district. After the promulgation of the amended act, the 12 Class exams will be held as the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) board exam, according to the MoE.

 The amended act has envisioned the school level education at basic/elementary (grades one to eight) and secondary level (grades nine to 12) from the existing primary (grades one to five), lower-secondary (grades six to eight), secondary (grades nine to 10) and higher secondary (grades 11 to 12) levels.

The new act has also made provision to form National Education Council, National Examination Board and Education Review Office.

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