KATHMANDU, April 7: Although 7.7 percent of children of school-going age are not in school, the government does not have any sound plan for bringing them into the classroom.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) has announced it is to start an enrollment drive with the slogan 'We wish basic education free and compulsory for all' for the coming academic session that begins in April. About seven million children are enrolled in public schools across the country while nearly 1.5 million others study at the 6,000 or so private schools .
Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokharel on Friday organized a press meet at MoEST to make the enrollment campaign successful. However, as in previous years, the ministry has floated a campaign without any sound planning.
"I request all to participate in the enrollment campaign, visiting households to foster awareness among people to enroll their wards in school," said Pokharel. "The door to door visits will also compile the number of children of school-going age," he added.
According to MoEST, the enrollment rate of children between 5 to 9 years was 97.2 percent last year. However, the enrollment rate of children between 5-12 years was 92.3 percent. That means 2.8 percent of children between 5-9 years and 7.7 percent between 5-12 remain out of school. These children come under the category of basic education from Grades 1 to 8
"The problem is more acute in the tarai districts such as Sarlahi, Dhanusha, Rautahat, Parsa, Bara and Kapilvastu," said ministry officials.
The Constitution of Nepal 2015 has provisioned the fundamental right to compulsory basic education (Grades 1-8) and secondary education (Grades 9-12) as free education. "It is the duty of the state to ensure access to education for all children," said Pokharel.
The minister further claimed that the government would manage the school textbooks by the end of April. "The government has disbursed Rs 2.22 billion in grants for school textbooks," he said . "Textbooks for Grades 1-5 will be available in color for the first time from the coming academic session."
In past years, the government always failed to print and supply the school textbooks on time. Students will have to face the same problem this time also, according to the Guardians Association Nepal.