Current education system in Nepal and challenges due to COVID-19
The Nepali education system has failed to provide the same educational standards that the global industry demands. The current knowledge trend in Nepal is such that students are pursuing degrees not for the sake of knowledge gaining but for the sake of earning an undergraduate certification.
In the run for qualitative education and the resultant good job prospects, many students across the globe prefer pursuing higher education in foreign destinations. And Nepali foreign education aspirants are no exception here. An overview of the past few generations knowledge gaining shows that the younger has not learned anything new than the older generations.
The education system here is highly theoretical. It is based more on theories present in the textbook than in practical knowledge which does not do a favor for the students to testify their knowledge in the field. And that’s when things get difficult for students as they lack experience and can’t cooperate effectively in their fields.
The following factors pose a challenge to Nepal’s education system:
Political Instability and bureaucracy
Lack of Practical learning approach
Nepalese Permanently Settling Abroad
Challenges in education due to COVID-19
To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease, the majority of governments around the world have resorted to nationwide or localized lockdowns, including the closure of schools. As a result, more than one billion children around the world are currently out of school and in need of alternative forms of education. Following consequences can be observed in Nepal where there is lower learning outcome and high dropout rate
Family poverty and loss of income
Increased child labor
Increased child marriages(particularly affecting girls)
In the past decades, Nepal has witnessed significant improvements in access to education for children across the country. In fact, the current enrolment rate of children in primary education is about 96%, compared to 72% in
2000. Additionally, the adult (15+) literacy rate of the Nepali population has grown steadily from 21% in 1981 to 68% in 2018.
As shown previously, the education system of Nepal is highly influenced by the poverty and inequality prevailing in the country. As a result, the ability to enjoy education is limited for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. As history has shown, these children are the first to suffer when a disaster takes place. Therefore, it can be predicted that children in rural areas, from lower castes and girl children are most likely to be negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schools in Nepal have been closed for almost eight months. To limit the negative impact of the pandemic on learning opportunities of the children, the education cluster of Nepal agreed on providing opportunity of learning through Internet, TV, Radio and print media. However education cluster will need to take into account the barriers of poverty and inequality and the increased child labor and child marriage risks that have cost many children their education during past health emergencies and crises.
Nepali government introduced schooling via television for grades 6-10 as part of its “Digital Education System”. However, the Share cast Initiative’s 2017 survey shows that only 72% of households in Nepal own a television. This allows the majority of children to take part in the television classes, but still likely excludes more than a quarter of the student population. Furthermore, the frequent electricity cuts also interfere with access to this form of schooling. In fact, in 2012 only 49% of the rural population of Nepal was estimated to have access to electricity, compared to 93% of the urban population.
Simultaneously, the government invested 70 million rupees (approximately 570,000 USD) to develop and launch online classes. Like the television rate, about 72% of the Nepali population is estimated to have internet access. However, this share of population is almost entirely located in urban areas and represent higher-income families. Rural areas also face lower quality of internet connections. The online classes require 3G internet access which is both costly and largely unavailable in rural areas. Furthermore, it remains questionable whether teachers are skilled enough to use online tools for teaching as they face the same internet limitations as their students and have likely not been trained to teach virtual classes.
Most of the students have a cellphone in their home, which they are now using to access the radio schools. Since internet connectivity is a severe bottleneck in Nepal, arrangements can be sought with internet and telecom providers to provide zero-bandwidth or zero-cost access to learning portals. This will require that new servers and network hardware be set up in many provinces to handle higher traffic. Teachers also need to receive adequate training to master the technology so that they can provide support to children with remote learning tools and materials.
COVID-19 has tested the limits of Nepal’s education system, and much progress remains to be made to improve children’s learning.
But the pandemic has also revealed how quickly the country could stand up to the challenge to ensure that children can continue their education now and be better able down the road to contribute to a more prosperous Nepal.