KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 24
Hundreds of students, mostly from public schools, across the country continue to be deprived of education due to lack of their access to electronic mediums like the internet, television and radio.
The Ministry of Education has been encouraging educational institutions to continue teaching and learning activities through electronic means.
However, the online education system has created a huge gap between the students of private and public schools, according to educationalists.
The government recently decided to allow private schools to enrol students for the new academic year and operate online classes, by issuing ‘Student Learning Facilitation Guideline- 2020’. The ministry has not yet introduced any feasible solution for over 70 per cent of the total eight million students, who attend public schools and who lack computers and smartphones or have no access to the internet.
Many public schools in remote areas lack basic amenities like school buildings, class room infrastructures and toilets. A government record of last year showed that over 72 per cent of Grade V students in public schools were poor in mathematics. Moreover, around 32 per cent of such students were taught only five per cent of the total course in an academic year. A survey made public by the government in May showed that around 21 per cent of students in public schools dropped out of schools by the time they reached Grade VIII and the number doubled when they reached Grade X.
Stating that existing discrimination in the sector of education would drastically increase the gap between the children from poor and welloff family backgrounds, educationalists have been urging the government to introduce a clear plan to tackle digital divide.
Latest school enrolment record showed that there are over five million students at public schools across the country, who represent people from under-privileged backgrounds.
Educationalist Kedar Bhakta Mathema said while the situation of public schools was poor prior to the lockdown, the pandemic situation was likely to worsen their situation if the government failed to introduce a solid action plan. “If the government allows private schools to teach students from well-off families, without making any arrangements to run public schools that will be a sheer negligence towards its poor citizens.”
Educationalist Bidhya Nath Koirala said, “The government should find a standard solution to teach children as per their geographical location.”
He also stressed that no students should be left out from teaching and learning activities.
Subash Bhandari, vice-president of Nepal Guardian Association said if schools could resume physical classes after two months, teachers could cover up to 75 per cent of the course within the remaining four months.
Stakeholders and activists have suggested the government to utilise 753 local governments to locate school children, collect data and provide them with education through various means.
Deepak Sharma, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education said they have categorised students in five groups based on their access to internet, television and radio services.
“If a student has no access to any of those services, information of such students will be recorded by the concerned schools and teachers will be deployed to provide them with essential academic courses,” said Sharma.
Feature image: File
A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 25, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.