With the enrolment rate of students falling noticeably in public schools across the county, the government is all set to announce a merger plan for such schools from the new session that begins April-end.
Records at the Department of Education (DoE) show that there has been gradual decrease of students in government-owned schools, mainly in urban areas which have a large number of private schools and in hilly areas where migration to the Tarai region is high.
“We are launching merger plans for schools where the teacher-student ratio is much lower than required,” DoE Deputy Director Deepak Sharma told the Post.
Under a provision in the Education Regulation of the Education Act-1971, the teacher-student ratio for the Tarai is 1:50 while it is 1:45 for the Hilly regions and 1:40 for Mountainous regions. The standard ratio envisioned in the School Sector Reform Programme (SSRP) is 1:30.
Sharma said the plan will be based on the SSRP provision and focus on primary schools. In primary schools in Kathmandu Valley, the teacher-student ratio is half the required rate. Around 2,100 primary teachers are attending to around 45,000 students in the Valley. After 2005-06, a dozen schools in Lalitpur and Bhaktapur ceased to exist after the student-teacher ratio dropped lower than 1:10. The scenario is similar in many districts including Kaski and Dolakha. Teachers displaced by the closure of schools are currently being accommodated in other public schools. However, the District Education Offices are still not clear on a lasting solution.
The plan will be a voluntary one this year while attractive packages will be announced for schools that show willingness to merge. Schools that are within a 30-minute walk from each other will be encouraged to merge. Around 100 schools are expected to merge this fiscal year.
Sharma said Rs. 100,000 grant will be given to schools that integrate class one, while Rs. 500,000 will be given to two primary schools that merge. In addition, incentives like internet and library facilities will be given. Sharma said the merger will enable optimum utilisation of existing infrastructure.
Sharma said additional teachers after the merger will be posted where they may be needed urgently. “For this, incentives will be given to them if they voluntarily seek transfer,” Sharma said.
There are around 29,000 public schools in the country where 110,000 teachers (apart from the relief quota) are teaching.
(Source: The Kathmandu Post)