Private, public school gap widens further

2014-04-05

Himalayan News Service

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Despite allocation of a large chunk of education budget for school education, government schools have fared badly as compared to private schools in this year´s SLC (School Leaving Certificate) examinations. 

Though this has always been the case, the gap between public and private schools in terms of the quality of education has widened further in the last few years. 
This year, only 46 per cent of the students appearing in the SLC exams from public schools have succeeded. 

This is lower by almost 50 percentage points as compared to private schools. Almost 90 per cent of students appearing in this year´s SLC exams from private schools have succeeded.

Last year, the gap in the SLC pass percentages of public and private schools was just 34 percentage points. Two years ago, the percentage gap was only 26. But one can not make a true assessment of the gap by just looking at the results of the last two years.

Taking into account the record of the last ten years, private schools have always maintained around 90 per cent success rate while public schools´ success rate hovers around 30 to 50 per cent. This means that there has always been a huge performance gap between public and private schools.

A false pride 

Although private schools have always secured good pass percentages in the SLC examinations, this does not reflect reality. It is an open secret that many private schools always make their weak students appear in the SLC exams through private channels or from other government schools. 

“Private schools allow only those students who are likely to score good marks to appear in the SLC examinations. Other students who are unlikely or less likely to pass are forced into looking for other options,” says Baburam Adhikari, Chairman of Nepal National Teachers´ Organization. 

Recently, private examination system -- which provided a ground for private schools to maintain their high pass percentages by dropping weak students -- has been abolished. And, Adhikari is pretty confident that private schools will fail to maintain their records next year.

Results of politicization

What Adhikari says is true to an extent. However, the fault lies in public schools that have virtually been ruined by politicization. Education secretary Shankar Prasad Pandey says, “The dismal performance of public schools in the SLC exams is just an indication of how politicized our public education system is.” 

He says the teachers who are associated with political organizations are more powerful than District Education Officers (DEOs). “The DEOs can not do anything,” he says. “Teachers need not teach in class-rooms if they have political backings.” And, it is almost impossible to find a teacher with no political connections.

Almost 97 per cent of teachers at public schools are well-trained whereas most of private teachers never get to participate in any of training programs. However, this has not helped students at public schools perform well in any way. 

“Teachers can not apply what they learn in training programs,” Adhikari says. “We talk of child-friendly education in training programs. But, how is it possible when most of public schools are overcrowded with students? You will find as many as 150 students squeezed in one single class room.” He insists teachers are not solely responsible for pubic schools´ poor performance. 

Education expert Dr Vishnu Karki upholds what Adhikari says. “Although the incompetence of teachers is the major reason behind the widening gap, there are other factors that can not be overlooked,” Dr Karki says, adding, “Parents are almost equally responsible. They think their responsibility is over by simply sending children to schools. We can not get away by simply accusing the teachers.”

(Source: The Republica Nepal: Published in Republica National Daily: Written By OM Astha Rai)