School Sector Reform Program (SSRP) has been the main policy of school education in Nepal today which was initiated in the year 2009. In these years, the Ministry of Education (MOE) attempted to restructure the basic education i.e., grades 1-8. However, there are many things to carry out to complete the proposed plan. The SSRP clearly indicates that starting from 2012 the MOE will start the restructuring of secondary education which is planned as grades 9-12. Each year one grade will be integrated to the new secondary school system. In 2009 the MOE will implement new curricula for grade 9 and will continues it until new curricula for grade 12 will be implemented in 2015.
This means the national examination of 2015 of grade 12 will be conducted based on the new structure. Until today we have both secondary classes (9-10) and higher secondary classes (11-12) running separately from a separate Act. The government is keen to pass the Education Bill as soon as possible to implement the integrated secondary education (9-12) as per the SSRP. Now there are two types of higher secondary schools running; one, grades 1-12 and the other 11-12. The second type is also called the zero plus two or stand-alone.
The Higher Secondary Education Board issued a notice 5 years ago to all the stand-alone higher secondary schools to integrate grades 9 and 10 by 2014
AD. The higher secondary schools running only 11 and 12 grades did not heed this and turned their deaf ear. To systematize school education and to support the government system the HSEB has stopped affiliating stand-alone 11 and 12 grades since then.
Now the new education bill clearly indicates that grades 9-12 cannot be broken into pieces like 9-10 and 11-12. That is the reason why the government has been preparing the curricula structure maintaining the vertical integration. If the secondary level goes to two pieces as before then there will be no use of the restructuring of education. Internationally speaking, the schools mean K-12 as a whole without any breaking. In the new education bill the government has attempted to follow the same.
Number wise, there are around 3500 higher secondary schools in Nepal out of which less than 3 percent schools are stand-alone or running only grades 11-12. According to the new rule these schools should either extend two grades downwards or close their schools. Moreover, these schools are run by business minded people who do not want to extend downwards. The dominating attitude of HISSAN, a trade-unionist characteristics, is negative and is
trying to raise hue and cry over this issue.
They have also threatened the government to close down all higher secondary classes if they are compelled to extend downwards. This can be termed as “Dadagiri” of the unions who always see their benefit and never support the government. This is the
same group having their school business (grades Nursery-10) under another trade union PABSON or N-PABSON which has not still paid one percent tax to the government as provided for in the law. The irony is that the MOE has not been able to do anything to these schools nor has the tax office been able to punish them so far.
Now let us talk about another issue associated with this one. There are about three dozens of ‘A’ level colleges equivalent to stand alone grades 11-12 of Cambridge University in Nepal running at the private sector. Similarly, another secondary education International Baccalaureate (IB) equivalent to the same is in practice here in Nepal. The question remains: whether the government also asks them to run downwards extension or asks them to quit. This is not clear yet.
If the government seems reluctant to close down all the A level and IB classes, then it will be an injustice to the institutions which are running stand alone (grades 11 and 12) to close down or go for downward extensions. Another question arises here: Who is going to follow the government rule, the MOE or the stand-alone HS institutions? If the government is keen to follow what it has planned under SSRP it must ask the A level and IB institutions to phase out and stop enrolling students after 2014, the year the government plans to introduce new curricula in grade 11 in the new restructuring of secondary education. Now the moral responsibility lies with the MOE.
The better way would be to wipe out all parallel systems regarding grades 11 and 12 whether it is ‘A’ level, stand alone or IB. Otherwise the effort of the government to bring reform in Nepalese education system will be of no worth. Systemic improvement in education is a painstaking task and all the citizens of the country must provide support for this to the government. The highly commercialized zero plus two should come to its size and should not sound like empty vessels. Moreover, it can be strongly advised to the government that they should not listen to the voice of the three percent against the 97 percent who are already in the system.
Dr. Wagley is an educationist
(Source: The Himalayantimes)