Silver lining

  • Increase in the pass percentage of public school students is a good sign
Silver lining

Jun 22, 2015-

The School Leaving Certificate (SLC) results finally came out on Friday. That there is a yawning gap between Nepal’s public and private schools again proved to be true. While the overall pass rate was a notch more than 47 percent, only around one-third of students studying at public schools were able to clear the exams.

 Still, the results have come with a hint of surprise. Despite the disappointment arising from the fact that only 192,267 out of 405,338 students who had sat for the annual ritual under the regular category received the passing grades, public schools saw a five percent rise in the number of students moving past the ‘Iron Gate’.

This indicates that the government’s investment in the education sector is showing some positive effects.  Education has always been one of the major priorities of the government. It has received a lion’s share of the budget, with Rs 86 billion being allocated for the fiscal year 2014-15.

Experts argue that this is a result of various policy reforms the government has carried out in tandem with increasing investment. Around 13,000 teachers were recruited last year alone to teach in the public schools. Similarly, decrease in politicisation also seems to have played a role. Over a dozen teachers’ association decided to merge into a single organisation last year, thus easing the political friction between the teachers’ groups which allowed teachers to focus more on teaching.

But still, public schools are way behind private schools when it comes to the pass percentage and overall achievement of students. Out of 302,399 students who appeared in the SLC exam from public schools, only 100,304 cleared the exam, while of 102,979 SLC-appeared students from private schools, 91,925 made the cut.            

The government will have to continue to prioritise the education sector to not let this ray of hope dissipate. No doubt, its investment in public schools has increased by one third in the last two years. But along with increasing financial aid, it can also implement some tricks from up private schools’ sleeve to boost the performance of public schools. Private schools in the country have been consistently ahead of public schools also because of the carrot-stick mechanism that they have adopted. While the career of and benefits received by a private school teacher hinges on the ability to make students pass exams, a government school teacher faces no such pressure.

It would be better if the government introduced such a reward-based mechanism for those teaching in public schools. The country has more than 6,800 public schools catering to hundreds of thousands of students mostly coming from the lower rungs of society. Helping these schools perform better would mean providing better chances in life for those who otherwise do not have much option.

Published: 23-06-2015 08:13

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