In the fiscal year 2016-17, the finance minister of Nepal allocated a budget of NPR 118.2 billion towards the development of the education sector. Contemporary education is considered one of the primordial elements in developing a country and its people. Hence, extra emphasis is being put on education over the past few years.
Efforts are continuously being made to address the need for quality education in Nepal and this effort has led to significant improvements in the overall standards of the Nepalese education system. edInbox has compiled some of the most significant improvements:
The Meaning of Education Has Broadened Over the Years
The fundamental change that has happened in the education sector is the pronounced transformation in the meaning of education.
Today, education is much more than just getting a degree. Education today encompasses the overall development of individuals including personality development, soft skills enhancement and the likes.
Divya Goyal, a former teacher at Bernhardt School in Kathmandu and a mother of a five-year-old child, said, “Earlier, children were loved and rewarded when they scored high marks. Today, everybody takes notice of extra-curricular activities and life skills as well. Education has significantly improved and increased its scope.”
The basic question remains – What led to this transformation?
The major reason why the meaning of education has transformed today is the intensive changes that have taken place in the recruitment policy of the companies.
Aditya Bansal, a student at the Apex College in Kathmandu, said, “Earlier, government jobs were given greater preference in the country because they ensured security. Today, people are moving towards private jobs. In addition, entrepreneurial mindset is being developed, which requires people to have top-notch soft skills rather than just mark-scoring capability.”
Inclusion of Practical Teaching-Learning Methods
The other significant improvement that has taken place in the educational sector is the emphasis on practical teaching materials.
According to a report, students undergoing vocational and technical education in Nepal would have to mandatorily undergo a practical course for one extra year. There are 139 schools that are imparting such vocational training courses. (Big Reforms Ahead in Nepali Education, The Himalayan Times, June 24, 2016).
Similarly, internships are being given more importance thereby underscoring the emphasis on practical education.
Even in case of lower secondary education, Nepalese organizations like Karkhana are experimenting with novel concepts like STEM education, thus giving extra emphasis towards practical learning opportunities.
Udaya Raj Paudel, the Programme Director of BBA at the Quest International College in Patan, said, “Nepalese education requires improved infrastructure so that the imparting of practical knowledge can be done more efficiently. Also, the whole curriculum needs to be developed such that practical knowledge is given equal or more importance than theoretical knowledge.”
It is not sufficient that only a few institutes focus on practical education. It needs to be made compulsory for all the institutes.
Increased Resource Diversion in Education
Earlier, parents mostly used to be illiterate and hence they were not really conscious about the need of education for their children. It was because people did not realize the importance of education that resources were not available.
Ram Babu Chaudhary, the Founder and Director of Lok Smriti Higher Secondary School, presented an insight on his own experience as a student and a teacher at present. He stated “When we were students, we used to observe that quality textbooks were scantily available. In fact, in many of the schools, teachers had to be imported from other countries. However, today, resource availability has been improved and this in itself has led to a scenario where teaching has become more focused.”
Increased Diversion of Resources in Education Has Led to Increased Participation from People
Chaudhary added, “Earlier, only a few people used to achieve degrees and hence they used to be highlighted. However, today the number of educated individuals is increasing. This is a very good sign. This is so as 100 percent educational enrollment rate has to be obtained for the country to develop.
Let us look at the following statistics:
- The primary enrollment rate has increased from 64 percent to 95 percent (USAID, 2017).
- Higher educational enrollment has increased from 38,000 in 1980 to 407.9 thousand in 2010.
- Annual increase in higher educational enrollment stands at 8.2 percent.
- Female enrollment in higher education stands at 41.8 percent as on 2010-1.
(Source: Education Management Information System, 2012).
Where Should Education Stand in Nepal?
Despite such significant improvements in the educational sector, there are still some loopholes, which can be taken into consideration in the coming years. A few such loopholes are:
Education Should be Able to Develop Entrepreneurial Mindset amongst Students
Dwaipayan Regmi, a part-time faculty member at Kathford International College in Kathmandu and a writer for New Business Age Magazine Nepal, said, “Students today are pursuing higher education in order to get better job opportunities. They hardly become entrepreneurs. Education has to start creating job givers in order to see the full impact of educational investment in the development of the country’s economy.”
Education Needs to Have a Universal Approach
In the recent past, the Nepalese education system saw how the government implemented the grading system to bring the Nepalese education system in perfect sync with the international education system. However, that was only the first step.
Regmi added, “Even today, there is a discrepancy in the grading system existent in various universities and colleges. Hence, it is of paramount importance that this discrepancy is sorted out at the earliest. The grading system in Nepal needs to be regulated such that all the universities and colleges have similar evaluation mechanisms.”
As they say, everything has a room for improvement. Nepalese education system also has a lot of things in which it can strengthen itself to ensure that the future of Nepalese young minds is safe and secured.
Reporting by Mahima Poddar, Glocal Khabar Special Correspondent, Kathmandu, Nepal