I assume the English teachers of rural Nepal are quite busy these days as the so called iron gate of the academic career of Nepalese students is closing on them. Not different from past years, English teachers must be happy to see a huge crowd of students, especially those from the government schools, hurrying to take tuition class of English. Everyone preparing for SLC takes English tuition at least for one month and most commonly for two months before the exam. Every student preparing for the SLC examination must be hurrying for the tuition. They must be busy the whole day attending the tuition classes of English, math, and optional-math. This season is in fact a golden one for the English and Math teachers to earn money, the best to harvest the fruit of their business.
I remember the day when I was in Class 8 and went to meet my sister who was attending tuition classes at Beltari, a small village in southern Nawalpararsi. As soon as I re
ached her class, I was surprised to find that it was no different than the common class of the school (in government school in our areas generally 100 or more students study in one class). The teacher was well prepared for the season with a separate space beside his house for the tuition with a wooden black board in the front and some 20 desk-benches. It was really a congested class yet the crowd of the students was ever strong. I attempted to estimate how many students were taking English tuition from my school and found out that almost all in Grade 10 were.
It seemed as if they couldn’t pass the SLC without tuition, then why did they go the school for a year if they couldn’t pass it without the tuition and what would be the meaning of the essence of the teachers who were given the responsibility of producing a well qualified human power by providing the youth the quality education. I sensed the meaninglessness of their teaching to their student if they cannot make their students secure only 26 out of 80 even after teaching a whole year. I felt shame on them. This was my first impression that made me feel that English is really tough to pass so I too will have to take tuition class of English in order to pass. I used to find English comparatively tough to secure marks but after seeing this scene, I made a strong mind that I wouldn’t take any tuition classes of any subjects.
When I reached Class 10, SLC carried with it the same fever, and our batch appeared in the SLC examination the same way. I remember we were 117 students altogether and when the result was published, only seven students could open the door for higher education. More than 90% of the failed students couldn’t pass due to English, math and science and most significantly due to English.
The problem to pass in English is most common in Government schools and has been a major hindrance for the students of government schools to go for higher education. The major problem is the negligence of the teachers themselves; I have seen almost all the teachers of government school passive towards delivering a quality instruction. Merely attaining a certificate and teaching 10-4 doesn’t make one a teacher but that seems to be happening all the time.
The curriculum of English has been included from the grade four instead of including it from the very beginning but the major problem lies in how they had been taught English. The teachers themselves aren’t well fed with English so it becomes almost impossible for us to anticipate the quality teaching from them. The active participation of the students in the class is a major factor for learning English which is entirely ignored in the government school. Furthermore a teacher with 40 minutes class-periods to teach classes with almost 100 students would find it difficult to know the student individually so the poor remains poor.
Is not this “tuition disease” a sort of slap to the government’s effort to improve quality of education and their investment to create educated and well qualified human power? Hasn’t it raised a serious question for the Nepalese education policy makers to answer? The worst result in English in SLC remains the same every year and hundreds of thousands of the students fail in SLC for being unable to pass in English. Hasn’t it raised an immediate need of finding a permanent and sustainable solution of this problem? Isn’t it a call to the entire country for finding a permanent solution to this endemic problem?
I am struck by an idea of why the government is imposing the curriculum of English as a compulsory subject if it is this hard for the students to pass. Students are required to secure 26 out of 80 to pass, yet students are not being able to secure even that; grace marks of 5 is provided if they fail in one subject only but for most even that is of no avail.
This is not the case of my school and my batch rather this is the bitter reality of almost all the government schools where English is known as Sarkari Rog (Government disease). This was the case of 45 B.S., this was the case of 50 B.S., this was the case of 59 B.S., and this was the case of 63 B.S. I am sure this will be the case of 64 and 65, 66, and beyond if we don’t improve. The proud and propagandist governments seem pleased to announce that it has invested a huge amount of money in education but have they ever realized where their investment has gone? Have they ever investigated how their budget is spent? Have they ever realized what happens to the psychology of a student who spends his/her 10 years labor but cant go for further education because s/he fails to pass SLC. Hardly 30 to 40% students pass the SLC examination and most of them are from the private boarding school where the ordinary Nepalese citizens don’t have access to send their children.
Every year hundreds of boarding school are being established, every year the number of the schools appearing in the SLC examination is increasing but has the government made any system of measurement whether or not they are providing the quality of education? To tell the truth they don’t have a string of anxiety for the young children of our country who dream to become the doctors, pilots, engineers, lawyers, teachers and many more by attaining a quality education. Furthermore the people in the high places have no reason to be anxious for they can send their daughters and sons to the highly expensive boarding schools and even schools in foreign countries.
I came to know that Nepalese students rank 13th among the foreign students obtaining entrance for education in the US but if we go finding the date, more than 90% of them are from the boarding schools and belong to the well off families. Every year thousands of Nepalese students from the well off families are flying abroad to receive education but this is only a dream, a mere dream indeed for the ordinary Nepalese students with an exception of some fair scholarship quotas.
Those students who make to pass the SLC, Intermediate and even Bachelors and Masters degrees are running like a squirrel into the cage in search of opportunities but all in vain. What else can they do? They don’t have any technical education so that they can earn their livelihood through their skills. Only printing the pictures of the royal family in the front page doesn’t make the curriculum and text books the best and modern. Rather the need for providing technical and vocational education had to be realized so that the increasing number of educated-but-unemployed could be reduced. That could also have minimized the serious problem of brain-drain.
My teachers taught me that Nepal possesses a huge potential for generating hydroelectricity but due to lack of skilled man power we haven’t been able to utilize it, the same I taught to my students and my student too will teach the same to the coming generations. The same will be the case for every potential given to us by Nepal’s natural resources. If we are well aware that we need the highly skilled manpower for the utilization of our own resources, why are we not stepping ahead to provide the education to our young learners who can be the skilled people of the future?
Democracy came, went and has been restored again, the government has been changed time and again but nothing changed in the education sector. Saying that the county is in its transition period the highly acclaimed need of educational development can’t be ignored by the government. It is needless to say that majority of the Nepalese students study at the government schools and, unless the quality of education in the government schools is improved and maintained, the improvement in the SLC result will be a day dream. The sense of “must go for tuition” should be eliminated for once and for all.
With good wishes for hopeful results for those who are appearing in SLC examination this year!
Project Category: Project: Rural Education Nepal
Article Category: Memoir
Author: Deepak Pandey
About Author: Deepak Pandey is an english teacher in Nepal who carries a vision to make his students understand english and not just memorize words and sentences.
Submission Date: February 2008