Education front in 2010: Not an encouraging year



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Like the previous years, the year 2010 did not have much to offer for the country's troubled education sector, though some steps were encouraging. 

In a landmark decision, the Tribhuvan University phased out the Proficiency Certificate Level in the year 2010 despite strident protests from various student unions. The three major student unions had to be content with an eight-point agreement they reached with the TU administration on July 23, while 11 unions continued to stand against the phase-out.

The year saw the education sector get a budget boost. The government allocated Rs 57.65 billion budget for the sector this year (17.1 per cent of the total budget and a whopping increase of 24.5 per cent as compared to last year's education budget). But this failed to impress education experts disappointed over the absence of new programmes. 

Two student unions — CPN-UML-aligned All Nepal National Free Students' Uni-on and UCPN-Maoist-affiliated All Nepal National Independent Students' Union-Revolutionary — held their national conventions and elected new leadership. 

Held in Janakpur on October 2-6, ANNFSU's 20th national convention elected Madhav Dhungel, who had the tacit support of senior party leaders KP Oli and Madhav Kumar Nepal, the union chairman. Dhungel bagged 955 votes, while his rival, Soviet Dhakal, who had the backing of CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal and party leader Bam Dev Gautam, had to be content with 912 votes. However, the first post-election full meeting of the 201-member ANNFSU central committee could not agree on the division of responsibilities to office bearers, bringing to light differences within the student body. 

ANNISU-R's 18th national convention held in Kirtipur on December 10-14 unanimously elected Himal Sharma as its new chairman. Subsequently, the ANNISU-R central committee turned its 148-member central committee to a 201-member megalith. 

The Nepal Law Campus introduced a five-year BA/LLB programme  targeting plus-two graduates so as to produce legal academicians. 

The results of School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examinations were a bit disappointing this year. The Office of the Controller of Examinations published the results on July 2. The pass percentage stood at 64.31 per cent this time, 4.16 per cent lower than last year's. An official at the OCE attributed the decrease in pass rate to stricter monitoring of the exams. Of the 456,719 students, who filled the forms, 427,051 sat for the exams and 259,916 made it through the 'Iron Gate'. He said the number of expelled students was higher than last year. 
Fee hike for the Bachelor level (second year) was another hot-button issue. Various student unions protested the fee hike and urged the students to submit forms by paying the fees that the earlier batch had paid. Student unions pressed the campus administration, locked some campus chiefs and accounts sections for long in a bid to make the authorities review the fee hike. 

Chiefs of 10 constituent campuses of the TU in the valley - RR Campus, Shankar Dev Campus, Mahendra Ratna Campus, Nepal Commerce Campus, Amrit Science Campus, Padma Kanya Campus, Public Youth Campus, Saraswoti Multiple Campus, Bhaktapur Multiple Campus and Sano Thimi Campus - resigned en masse in protest of the student unions' acts of opting for a long-drawn-out protest, padlocking offices and misbehaving with them. 

Subsequently, the unions halted the collection of exam forms over the fee hike, but this has had no effect on the TU administration hell-bent on conducting the exams from November 29. Later, the agitating unions agreed with the Office of the Controller of Examinations to let the exams take place peacefully. 

Due to ANNISU-R's 18th national convention, some papers of Bachelor (second year) exams were postponed and this sparked a sharp criticism of education authorities. 

In another development, vice chairman and member-secretary of the Higher Secondary Education Board, Prof Dr Upendra Koirala and Ram Bahadur Khaka, put in papers to evade possible action on financial embezzlement in printing of Grade XII answer sheets. 

On September 28, the Cabinet approved their resignation and appointed Dr Hem Kumar Mishra and Bhim Lal Gurung as HSEB vice chairman and member-secretary respectively. 

As usual, rival student unions continued to fight each other in different colleges on different issues. 
All these events made the year 2010 a not-so-encouraging year for the education sector.

(Source: The Himalayan Times)