In a significant move aimed at aligning the education system with the principles of federalism, the government has introduced the Education Act Amendment Bill in Parliament eight years after the promulgation of the Constitution. This bill, if passed, will bring about substantial changes in Nepal's education landscape.
Here's an in-depth look at the key provisions and their implications:
Empowering Local Levels in School Management
One of the central features of the bill is the empowerment of local levels in managing schools. It grants local authorities the right to establish, operate, and approve additional levels of schools. However, this right comes with certain conditions. Schools must demonstrate identified needs in mapping schools, as well as an assurance of adequate resources and qualified teachers. This provision aims to ensure that the expansion of educational institutions aligns with local demand and capacity.
SEE Abolishment and New Examination System
The proposal to abolish the Secondary Education Examination (SEE) represents a significant shift in the education assessment system. Previously, the National Examination Board administered SEE, but the bill introduced a new framework. Under this system, the National Examination Board will only conduct the Secondary-level Examination (12th grade). Grades 9, 10, and 11 exams will be the responsibility of individual schools.
To maintain standardization, relevant education offices will prepare question papers for core subjects in the primary education passing examination. In contrast, question papers for optional subjects will be developed at the local level under national standards.
Addressing Staffing Shortages: 46,000 New Teaching Positions Proposed
Recognizing the need for additional teaching staff, the government proposes to add 46,000 new teaching positions across various categories. These positions will encompass special education instructors, technical teachers, and trainers. Notably, special education and technical teacher and trainer subsidy quotas will be transformed into teacher vacancies.
New School Registration Requirement under the Guthi System
The bill stipulates that newly established schools must be registered under Guthi to enhance oversight and accountability. This requirement will help authorities effectively monitor the establishment and operation of new educational institutions.
Private schools, previously mandated to register under Guthi as per the initial bill, have seen a significant amendment. Following intense criticism, opposition, and pressure from private school administrators, the revised bill now grants private schools the option to choose between transitioning to the Guthi system or continuing their operations as they currently stand.
Elevating Teacher Qualifications
The bill raises the bar for teacher qualifications at the secondary level. Historically, the education system has been organized around primary, lower secondary, and higher secondary levels, each mandating specific educational credentials for prospective teachers. Per the previous regulations, primary-level educators must have completed their 10th-grade education. In a parallel vein, lower secondary teachers were obliged to hold a 12th-grade qualification, while higher secondary instructors were mandated to possess at least a bachelor's degree.
However, the government's proposed educational reforms intend to introduce a clear demarcation between primary and secondary-level educators.
The proposed legislation has meticulously outlined the specific educational qualifications for general teachers at the basic level. These teachers are required to have attained at least a Bachelor's degree. In contrast, subject teachers, responsible for the secondary level, must hold degrees directly related to the subjects they will teach, ensuring a higher degree of specialization.
Under the proposed framework, teachers responsible for teaching students up to class 5 are categorized as general teachers, for whom a minimum qualification of a Bachelor's degree is prescribed. On the other hand, teachers tasked with instructing students from classes 6 to 12 will be designated subject-specific teachers. The bill categorizes teachers into general and subject-wise categories, streamlining qualification requirements and ensuring a more targeted approach to education.
School Fee Regulation
A significant aspect of the bill relates to fee regulation in private schools. These institutions will only be allowed to charge fees determined by local authorities. In contrast, public schools will be prohibited from imposing any fees on students. This measure aims to provide affordable education and standardize fee structures across private schools, making education accessible to a broader population.
Principal Selection through Competition
In a bid to improve school management, the bill suggests selecting school principals through competitive processes. Selection committees, consisting of education officials and experts, will assess candidates based on their abilities in school management, commitment to educational quality, and plans for school improvement.
Enhancing Parental Involvement
Recognizing the importance of parental involvement in school governance, the bill permits parents of students to elect the chairman of the school management committee from among themselves. This change fosters a sense of community ownership and participation in the educational process.
Promoting Inclusiveness in School Management Committees
The bill underscores the importance of inclusiveness by mandating that school management committees include at least two women among their members. These members should be intellectuals, education enthusiasts, or social workers residing at the local level.
Check the full bill here.