Educationalist Prof. Dr. Mana Prasad Wagle, the former dean of the faculty of Education, Kathmandu University has contributed most of his life in the education sector. Colleges Nepal talked with him about the current education policy and its importance in the education sector.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF RECENTLY ADOPTED EDUCATION POLICY IN NEPAL?
Our education policy is the same policy implemented in 2028 B.S. It hasn’t been changed but is revised. The recently adopted education policy has been revised and implemented on Ashad 15, 2073. The universities of Nepal have their own rules and regulations and they don’t follow any rules beyond that. So there’s no any overall nation’s education policy. What’s important is if the education policy of 2028 B.S. opens the path for 2074 education policy or not.
HAS GOVERNMENT INCLUDED EDUCATION IN ITS PRIORITY LIST?
We can say that education has been in the government’s priority list because out of total budget of 12 trillion 80 billion, 1 trillion 26 billion is invested in the education sector. 17.1% was allotted to education sector but in 6 years, it exponentially decreased to 9.91%. So the priority of the government is questioned. But the truth is that out of the allocated amount, 93% of it is spent on teacher’s income and only 6 to 7% is spent on management. We only have an allocated amount of 8 billion to operate the universities of Nepal which is very less so yes, the government is giving less priority to the education sector.
LOTS OF PLANNING HAS BEEN DONE IN THE EDUCATION SECTOR. WHERE DO YOU SEE THE WEAKNESS, IN PLANNING OR IN IMPLEMENTATION?
We Nepali; all we do is planning but it doesn’t end up being implemented because there are lots of aspects that should be taken into consideration but are not. If a polytechnic clinic is to be established in each election region, it costs at least 12 billion so it is impossible to build 744 polytechnic clinics in 26 trillion. We have to implement the planning within the budget, not beyond the budget that’s why we lag in implementation.
THOUGH THERE’S A GREAT NEED OF BUDGET TO ENHANCE EDUCATION, THE BUDGET ALLOCATED FOR EDUCATION SECTOR IS DECLINING EACH YEAR. IS THIS A RIGHT PRACTICE AT A TIME WHEN COMPETITION LEVEL IS RISING IN A FAST PACE?
If we see a data of Nepal Government, only 48% of the budget is allocated for the education sector and 52% is being invested by the parents in lunch, uniform, education materials, etc. So there’s no way we are satisfied with the government. For high quality, investment should also be high.
THE QUALITY AND DEVELOPMENT OF EDUCATION SECTOR ARE MEASURED WITH THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS PASSING THE EXAMINATION. IS IT THE RIGHT WAY?
No, definitely not. If we see the result of SEE, out of 4,50,000 students, there are at least 2,07,000 students that don't even score D+ in the examination. This number doesn’t show quality. If we are able to make students capable of competing in the international market, if there’s enough manpower in the market, then it’s called quality but such is not the case. On one hand, the budget is reduced each year and on the other hand, the students are not getting good marks. These aspects should be taken into consideration.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN THE EDUCATION SECTOR OF NEPAL?
Now that the local government has full authority over the operation of the secondary level education system from 1 to 12 which was being managed by Ministry of Education, there are lots of opportunities. But if the local government fails to empower the system then our education system will become weak. To empower the education system, awareness programs should be conducted by media, academicians, NGO/INGO, the government then only education system will sprout in federalism.
HOW CAN THE RESULT OF COMMUNITY SCHOOL BE IMPROVED?
I would like to break the answer into points:
The important step to improve the result of the community school is to drop teacher’s politics to zero. One of the reasons behind the degradation of the community school is teacher’s politics. Time-on-task of the teachers should be full. The concept 'government schools are only for poor people' should be changed. It is an educational institute to produce manpower for the development of the country and a medium to link higher education. The public, the government, Ministry of Education, teachers, political parties should be aware of this fact. As a result, local education will improve.
MOST OF THE STUDENTS SEEMS TO BE BRAIN DRAINED. WHAT STEPS CAN BE TAKEN TO END THIS PROCESS?
There are two points that encourage the brain drain: One is due to lack of opportunities in the country and other is due to the attraction of the opportunities. Many graduates are willing to wash dishes abroad but not willing to do hardship in their own country. There are lots of opportunities in the tourism sector, hotel industry, and much more. We should try to make Nepal an educational hub of South Asia and create employment opportunities for qualified graduates. Students can start entrepreneurship. A small startup will become huge if given enough time and sweat. Try to create employment opportunities rather than search for it. Let’s not go abroad for some money. Be capable enough to compete at an international level. Students can find quality education in Nepal. There’s no need to go abroad.