The Multilingual Education Programme (MLE) initiated by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in a bid to provide education in mother tongue for all by 2015 has faced implementation difficulty as most of the parents want English as the language of instruction in schools.
The ministry introduced the MLE policy and programme with the aim of addressing the problem of students dropping out of school due to language problems.
With the introduction of MLE, it was expected that every school going child up to grade Three can learn in their first languages.
However, school management committees, teachers and guardians were not interested to teach in mother tongue saying that the students would face problems later in life to develop their skills in Nepali and English languages.
The Department of Education has no data of schools imparting education to their students in mother tongue. However, it has printed textbooks in different 18 languages.
Jaya Lamsal, Director at the Inclusive Education Section of the education department, said if any school wants to teach students in local language, DoE provides training to teachers. The department also provides economic support to the schools to print textbooks.
However, only a few schools visit the education department seeking permission and help to run classes in mother tongues. Lamsal said that many schools do not teach in the mother tongue of the students due to the negative attitude prevalent among the guardians.
School Sector Reform Programme (SSRP) had planned to launch classes in mother tongue in 7,500 schools by 2015 for basic level education. But it is unlikely that the goal will be met.
The Interim Constitution of Nepal- 2063, the Education Act-2028 and other legal provisions ensure opportunity for the students to learn in their mother tongue.
Likewise, MLE Direcotry-2066 supports and encourages district education offices and schools to provide education in students’ first language.
However, Nepal Teachers Union has opposed the government policy to impart education to the children of primary level schools in mother tongue.
Tirtha Khaniya, an education expert, said that local political party leaders were also against programme because of the popularity of English language.
Khaniya said that the implementation of inclusive education scheme can’t be effective if the authorities do not take any initiative.
He added the government has no data of students and schools, which need education in mother tongue.
The students of Kanchanpur are obtaining primary level education in Ranatharu language, of Palpa in Magar, of Rasuwa in Tamang, of Dhankuta in Aathpahariya Rai, of Sunsari in Maithali and Urau and Jhapa in Santhal and Rajbanshi languages.
The government has provided supported 21 government schools to run classes in mother tongues so far.
(Source: The Rising Nepal)