Crisis in the Education System in Nepal and the Way Forward

Bidya Nath Koirala

May 03, 2022
Last updated May 24, 2022
Crisis in the Education System in Nepal and the Way Forward

We grew up in a 10-year school education system, which has now been replaced with a 12-year system. In the past, an intermediate qualification was considered more valuable than a school qualification. However, in the newly established all topics taught at the intermediate level at the time were automatically incorporated. Colleges used to devote 65 percent of resources to the intermediate level or equivalent, but this amount of expenditure could not be replicated in Grades 11-12 in the new system. Similarly, the current curriculum states that there are 12 classes at the school level. Does the transition mean that the schools have been de facto promoted? If such is the case, why are they still referred to as Science, Humanities, and Management schools, even if there are no independent departments at the secondary level?

Why are the government, school administration, the University Grants Commission, and institutions all keeping quiet about this? The Ministry of Education is currently dormant on this issue. Why haven't competent instructors and university professors been brought in to teach at the level if the schools have been promoted? Because formerly, courses taught in Grades 11 and 12 were deemed university-level subjects. In other words, what is the difference between 11th and 12th grade? Is it a high school, a college, or a part of tertiary or higher education? Nobody is accountable for the answers to these questions.

Tertiary, higher education, or community college?

Tertiary education is non-degree education. From the point of view of American school system, it is an institution that offers vocational, technical, community, and diploma courses. So is higher education, according to the World Bank's terminology.

It neither provides vocational and technical education in grades 11 and 12 to be classified as a tertiary institution nor offers both credit and non-credit courses to be classified as a community college. Why not have university-level markers if it is genuinely higher education?

These essential concerns have not been discussed or acknowledged. Is it due to egoism, a lack of understanding, or simply because they are ineligible?

Can 11th and 12th grades be classified as career education or academic education?

Career education creates employable labor. Currently at the school level, we do not impart any social or job skills to develop a functioning workforce. Thus it cannot be considered career education. However, it cannot be called academic education either because it lacks the foundation of higher education courses.

Is the current system student-centered education or subject-centered education?

The practice of Grade 11 and 12th in western schools can be used as a model, where students are given the central role. Students can pick their courses, take private lessons, or attend open schools. The school's job is to administer exams to the students.

However, in Nepal, students are required to study the courses offered by a school, where schools and colleges are subject-oriented, given that the institutions provide multi-disciplinary courses. We should have followed the student-centered approach instead. HISSAN, a higher education advocacy organization, never speaks out on this subject while the government watches passively. And the vast majority of students and parents are completely unaware.

Should we be switching to credit hours or stick to integer system evaluation?

In the credit hour system, the subject matter is secondary. Students can study any topics they want as long as they are credit hours. Grades 11 and 12 will end in 64 credit hours, including some courses in the humanities, some in science, and others in management, which can be taken at different schools. 

Our practice, however, has been to completely disregard this aspect while adhering to the same old integer system. To date, no school has implemented one-way credit hours. If it had been implemented, an open school model would have been instated, wherein a science student would have to attend a separate school entirely for humanities classes, and referral courses would have been incorporated. Instead, we are woefully outmatched.

What is the primary goal of academic education in Grades 11 and 12?

Academic education is theoretical. Theoretical education is the most crucial aspect of academic education. In higher education, this is what occurs. There should be 11th and 12th-grade tertiary and community colleges to give experience in addition to education. In other words, academic education is the basis for undergrad enrolment. Those who have completed tertiary or community education cannot enroll in the undergraduate program directly. To do so, they'll need to take a few prerequisite classes. However, this hasn't been the case in our practice.

An argument can be made that we are committed to making our education conducive to Article 50 (h) of the constitution, which is “making education scientific, technical, professional, skill-oriented, and employment and people-oriented to prepare the human resources to be competent, competitive, moral, and committed to the national interest.”

Regrettably, this is only true in principle. Knowledge, science, technology, philosophy, and skill-oriented education systems have all been overlooked. The fact that most university students have neither the required expertise nor the necessary skills indicates that we have made a notable misstep.

What now is the best course of action?

The questions above all indicate that education in classes 11 and 12 is aimless. In theory, unanimity is required to get it to achieve its target with a pragmatic approach. The following ideas explore the next course of action:

  • The curriculum has already been developed, but the framework requires that it be put into practice. This method necessitates a flexible school administration structure and flexible universities. 

Flexible schools imply theme shifts in which students are permitted to pursue their interests. A prescribed credit must be given regardless of the subject a student is studying.

On the other hand, flexible universities allow students to pick the topic of their interest from among the university's schools and campuses. It is necessary to determine whether or not the students are capable of doing so. It is not required for all students to be able to pursue higher education. Only qualified students should be admitted to undergraduate programs after a standard obligatory entrance examination.

Career education can be introduced for those who cannot get into universities, education that teaches skills to earn a living. An arrangement can be made to achieve alternate education equivalent to a university degree where the students can learn at their own pace through open mode. If not, the existing schools will lose their essence, and so will the one-way course's nature.

  • Differentiation is required at academic colleges, community colleges, and tertiary institutions under the new system. All academic college courses can be transferred to universities. However, only a few community college courses are transferable. Tertiary education courses, on the other hand, are not academically recognized. Bridge courses can be arranged in that instance. To manage and bring this to reality, CTEVT, the University Grants Commission, universities, the Curriculum Development Center, the Ministry of Education, and other education stakeholders must work together.
  • Grade 11 and 12 brought to school education means that undergraduate and above are only considered higher education. In that case, In that circumstances, higher education institutions must make plans for conventional examinations to be conducted. Exams on-campus might be similar to those in the United States. District-level examinations, akin to the Panchayat-era Class-5 test, might be held. State-level examinations, identical to those in China, can also be conducted. Universities should hold campuses accountable, and the UGC should be on the lookout for the potential that the system is working.
  • If skill and academic education are the same, then let us endeavor to instill knowledge, science, and technology, as well as philosophy and ideals, in skill. Let's assemble a teaching force capable of instilling knowledge in all of these areas while also preparing students in the same manner. Similarly, let us design a strategy for turning every theoretical and philosophical concept into a competence.

If this isn't possible, education can't be practical, scientific, or even productive. Let's break the habit of overlapping structures with misaligned goals. Let us appropriately articulate the academic and skill-oriented institutions if they are to be merged. If not, we should be able to call them apart and allow them to function independently. With the current state of confusion, no ground can be covered.

  • In our country, the ones with a solid practical education cannot seek out the theory in practice, seek out philosophy, and identify technology. On the other hand, the technology-savvy has a lot of information about technology and books but doesn't know the practical aspect. In this scenario, how about using the project, study, workshop, and other formats to institutionalize a culture of two-way communication between parents and teachers in private and public schools.
  • Our policy making does not promote educational prosperity, which is clearly notable. For example, agriculture does not specify the number of agronomists required. Agricultural schools and campuses, it is said, do not adequately develop the workforce. Even CTEVT's manpower-driven students are dissatisfied with job opportunities in the nation. Engineers, physicians, nurses, teachers, attorneys, and managers are all in the same boat. This implies that our students should pursue a job aligned with their passions.

The local government should be the one that prepares entrepreneurs for the future. This is how a nation like Nepal, with a limited labor market, should think.

  • The only way to ensure that the subject matter is taught appropriately is to make sure that we adopt a credit hours system. Let us change our old practices if we wish to practice hybrid structure, course, pedagogy, etc. We are unconcerned about today's world of ideas and training. So, let's accept that this is the future for today's and tomorrow's generations.