Print Edition - 2014-09-09  |  Development

Government needs to employ aggressive steps to meet 1.7 million target

- Development Bureau

Sep 8, 2014-

If the government claims are anything to go by, the country will set a landmark achievement in the field of education sector by attaining total literacy by 2015. Almost all the people in 15-60 years age group will be able to read and write, making Nepal a literate country after Sri-Lanka and Maldives in South Asian Region.

However,  the past trend and sluggish preparation of the Ministry of Education (MoE) gives ample rooms to doubt on the government claim of attaining total literacy with only 16 months remaining of for the set 2015 deadline.

 Any region, according to Unesco, can be declared total literate if over 95 percent population can read and write. The MoE which has launched the ambitious “Literate Nepal Mission” to that end is yet to decide on the formal beginning of the campaign this year. Education Minister Chitra Lekha Yadav says it may take a few more weeks to decide on the date.

The Non-Formal Education Centre, (NFEC) which is tasked to make 1.74 million adults literate to attain the goal, is still undecided on the numbers of classes and teachers required for it. According to Baburam Poudel, director at the NFEC, there will be intensive programme in 17  Tarai districts and Nuwakot which has the highest number of illiterates, while the students from grade nine and 10 will be mobilised in remaining districts where the total number of illiterates stand at just 308,162.

Starting this year, the ministry has decided to make it mandatory for the secondary-level students to contribute in the adult literacy programmes. Out of the 25 marks for practical skills in School Leaving Certificate examinations, 10 will be for their performance in the literacy campaign. But there is no concrete modality on how it will be executed and how students will be mobilised in the campaign. “There has not been a proper homework in this regard,” says Basu Dev Kafle, an education expert. “Ever since the intensive literacy programme started 6 years ago, there has never been a proper planning.”

The past performance of the campaign justifies Kafle’s claim. The Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government in 2008/09 decided to make illiteracy history within two years. The estimated population of illiterate Nepalis then was 7.5 million. The campaign did help about 1.8 million illiterate population.

A door-to-door survey conducted by NEFC in 2010/11-few months before the national census showed some 5.2 million people could not read and write. Poudel claims that 3.34 million people have been made literate in four years after the census, taking the literacy rate of the country to 84 percent from 65.9 percent.

The data from the NEFC clearly shows that the annual target for the literacy has never been attained. Just 1.8 million people benefited from the programme against the target of 2.31 million in 2008/09 and one million people became literate despite the target of 1.21 million in 2009/10. Similarly 349,936 people were the part of the literacy campaign in 2010/11, though the aim was to educate 612,920. Similarly, in 2011/12 only 769,367 benefited from the literacy classes against the target of 1.03 million. In 2012/13 the MoE had set the target of educating 1.1 million as part of the literacy campaign; only 914,141 people were    in the programme.

After the campaign failed to produce the desired result, the government launched the “Literate Nepal Mission” (LNM) last year. The LNM, too, suffered the similar fate with only 80 percent of 1.6 million target population benefitting from it.

“The government announced literacy campaign was treated as a small programme under the Ministry of Education, which is the main reason behind the continuous failure,” says another Mana Prasad Wagle, an education expert. He suggests the government to push LNM aggressively.  NFEC Poudel agrees with Wagle’s view. He has vowed to make LNM successful. “The history won’t be repeating. Literate Nepal Mission is a national pride project and we have received support from various sides to make it successful.”

Published: 09-09-2014 08:53

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