KATHMANDU, Aug 10: Various stakeholders have argued that the local units have not performed well to manage school education up to Grade 12 as per the rights devolved to the local units by the federal constitution of Nepal.
People’s elected representatives under the federal system have been governing the local bodies since the local body elections held more than a year ago in which the Nepal Communist Party (CPN) won about two-thirds of seats.
According to the Constitution of Nepal, the existing laws and rules, the local bodies are given 21 responsibilities including managing schools up to Grade 12, promoting quality of education, transferring and appointing temporary teachers and even scraping or merging poorly performing schools.
There are over 34,000 schools including more than 5,000 private schools in all 753 local units across the country. Out of the total schools and number of school students, public sector covers around 80 percent while private sector constitutes about 20 percent.
However, the results of Grade 10 show that about 80 percent pass rate is covered by private sector and only around 20 percent is achieved by the public sector.
“In such a situation, the local units are constitutionally required to enhance and promote quality education, and manage public schools,” said Keshav Puri, president of the Guardians Association Nepal (GAN). “However, most of the local units have failed to fulfill their responsibilities of promoting public school education and regulating private schools,” he said.
The school management is deteriorating more than before the federal system, according to the GAN, which has already started monitoring the performance of the local units in managing the school education sector.
“We found almost all the local units have done nothing serious to promote school education,” Giri said. “A few local units have initiated good examples. For example, Ward No 8 of Surya Vinayak Municipality in Bhaktapur district has made laudable attempts to upgrade public school education,” he added.
Education expert Prof Dr Bidya Nath Koirala, too, said that some of the local units have started exemplary works to improve school education. “I am hopeful that they can deliver but they have to develop their efficiency,” he said.
There are some modalities of monitoring schools at the local level, according to Prof Koirala. “There are multiple choices of modalities. Monitoring teams comprising political leaders, experts and other stakeholders can be formed to look into the education issues,” he said. “Additionally, the Education Division at the local units can take initiatives to improve school education,” he said. “However, they are yet to learn these methods. It is another problem that the school teachers affiliated with political parties do not care about the initiatives of the local units.”
Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Giriraj Mani Pokharel admitted that the performance of local units has not been as expected.
“We have written to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration to look into this concern,” said Minister Pokharel.
“The local units have been criticized for issuing affiliation to vocational and technical schools. It is a serious concern of the ministry,” he said, urging the local units not to issue affiliations before the formulation of federal policies.