Unequal and unfair education

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Jun 30, 2017-The ultimate test of an educational system is whether it makes sure that every student is exposed to the content they need to compete in today’s society. Nepal’s school are failing this most basic test. Nepal’s education system is unequal and unfair. Students who come from wealthy families have huge advantages that rig the system in their favour. They have the privilege to reach out for better schools and institutions, where the teachers are more experienced and the facilities modern. Meanwhile, those from the deprived sections are prone to lower quality education. In the process, the system contributes to a deepening chasm. 

In Nepal, the only way to climb the socioeconomic ladder and find secure work is to take an examination, which is a gruelling rite of passage. Talent is not a consideration because the culture believes in hard work above all, there is no excuse for failure. Children study year-round, both in school and with tutors. Nepalis basically believe that if you study hard enough, you can be smart enough. Not surprisingly, affluent students in well-off schools have higher rates of graduation, college attendance and entry to more selective colleges. This has little to do with intelligence or ability.

For example, in 2005, among the 1.4 million students who enrolled in grade one, only about 400,000 appeared in the SLC. In order to ensure that all children get a fair chance, urgent solutions are needed. This is why outstanding university graduates and young professionals from all fields should work collaboratively to ensure that all children in Nepal receive quality education. Unequal opportunities to learn are a threat to every student because it is the difference between classrooms that is the biggest source of variation. And just because classrooms are where a lot of inequality originates does not mean that we should blame the teachers. Too many teachers are inadequately prepared to teach mathematics, and are forced to choose what to teach from the conflicting guidance of textbooks. Too many mathematics textbooks give shallow coverage to too many topics rather than focusing on a few key topics, as is done in higher-achieving countries. 

Over the years, some organisations with the support of the government have made incredible contributions in classrooms around the country, allowing us to see the power of education. However, all of this has also further reinforced that the issues underpinning educational inequality are vast and require the efforts and expertise of more than just organisations and the government. It is imperative that all of us work together to understand what can really change the lives of children inside and outside the classroom in order to commit to long-term action. 

- NERAZ TULADHAR

Published: 30-06-2017 07:33

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