ROLPA, Jan 19: The free tuition classes of Science and Mathematics at different community schools of the 12 districts of Province 5 in view of the nearing Secondary Education Examination (SEE) have drawn flak. While free Science tuition classes are being offered at 742 and Mathematics at 888 schools under the initiative taken by the Social Development Ministry, school teachers and other stakeholders have criticized it as a populist program of the government.
"This is not a permanent solution. The provincial government should rather focus on better infrastructures and human resources at educational institutions," noted Madhusudan Pokharel, principal of Bal Kalyan Namuna Secondary School, Rolpa. "The system should be bettered. The program is tuition-centric. This is an artificial move though a few students may benefit from it," he added.
Community schools in the province, expect a few, lament the acute lack of infrastructures and subject teachers. A lot of schools have hired private teachers through internal resources and they struggle to survive. Academic performance of community schools, on an average, is poor. Amid this, the provincial government was expected to come up with a better approach, said Pokharel. "Spending money on extra tuition classes ahead of SEE is not what we were really looking for," he stated.
Also, according to Bishnu Prasad Bhushal, chief of the Social Development Division Office, the program is indeed targeted only at secondary level students, and basically the SEE. "It is just to increase the pass percentage of the students rather than to really provide education," he said.
Bhim Prakash Pun, president of Teachers' Federation, Rolpa slams the free tuition classes as an easy move by the government. He stresses substantial programs in order to better the overall quality of education in the province. "This program may help a few students for now. But it has no meaning unless we are able to address the mess at the schools right from the primary level. The situation of community schools is quite poor," he remarked.
According to ministry sources, the government is set to invest over six million rupees for the free tuition classes just in Rolpa and Pyuthan. As far as possible, teachers of the same schools would be handling the classes that would run for over 50 days.
Basanta Poudel, principal of Saraswati Secondary School of Dang district termed the initiative as 'watering a plant at the leaves and not at the roots'. She stated that the government should take a wise strategic measure to better schools' performance in Dang and other districts of the province.
"They are ready to spend millions in the name of free tuition classes. This might have elated the students preparing for SEE. But this doesn't help all that much," said Poudel. "In order to make education really effective, they have to water the roots not the leaves," she added.
Even though the local levels should have been consulted before launching such programs, the representatives were not sought for their advice, according to the mayor of Rolpa Municipality, Purna KC. "We were not called for any kind of consultations. However, we had also been running a similar type of program in the past," he said.
In connection with the program, the provincial government recently held a meeting of Mathematics and Science teachers of all 12 districts in the provincial capital, Butuwal. They were provided training and guidelines at the one-day meet.