KATHMANDU, Nov 10: None of the big parties have come up with agenda and policy in their election manifestos for uplifting the ailing education sector.
“Neither Nepali Congress nor the left alliance of CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Center has anything new about education policy in their election manifestos,” said education expert Prof Bidya Nath Koirala. “They have just reworked the provisions enshrined in the Constitution.”
Articles 31 to 39 of the Constitution provision, quality education that is free and employment-oriented. “The parties have bracketed themselves within these articles and are without any concrete vision,” said Prof Koirala.
Nepali Congress (NC) in its election manifesto has insisted on restricting major investment by the private sector in education while the left alliance has insisted on regulating the private sector and increasing the investment in public schools.
“We are against allowing the private sector to invest in education, which is an essential service, and against the state investing in commerce and industry,” the NC manifesto says. However, the left alliance manifesto does not say anything more about the subject at a time when cartelling dominates the sector.
The NC manifesto includes provisions on inclusive quality education that is integrated with health, nutrition, skills, employment and social security; an efficient education system under the local bodies that end the present duel-nature education, and on uplifting education at community schools through increased investment for extensive infrastructure development along with learning-teaching tools.
The left alliance manifesto speaks of ending the two types of education system --private and public, developing productive and job-oriented education, promoting research and expertize-oriented higher education, the incorporation of gurukuls, gumbas, madarsas, and open and alternative education under national education and keeping education free of politics.
The manifestos of both NC and the left alliance have provisioned free and compulsory school education and quality in education.
The left alliance has promised reform in education policy within two years, allocation of 20 percent of the total budget in education, investment in secondary education until the local bodies are financially empowered, production of 30 percent manpower in the non-technical and 70 percent in technical sectors, achievement of 100 percent literacy within five years, and enrollment of all school-age children within two years. The present enrollment rate of school-age children is over 97 percent.
The NC manifesto has pledged to open at least one university in each of the seven provinces, make private sector education responsible towards society, ensure gender equality in each level of education, achieve 100 percent literacy within five years for people aged 15 to 24, provide monthly stipends for Mashesi, Dalit, indigenous and Muslim students for higher education in science and technology, buy bicycles for girls enrolled in Grades XI and XII in the Tarai-Madhes, form a federal commission for secondary education, open technical schools under local bodies, provide qualified teachers for basic schools, establish model schools, develop curriculum that includes cultural and human rights concerns, and provide health checkups and treatment facilities at all schools every month.
Prof Koirala said they have each tried to show themselves better than the others. “Turning their words into action is more important than promises. Whoever wins can adopt policies for implementation but I don't see any quality implementation here,” he added.
“The education sector is paralyzed by political interference and they have no sound plan to discourage such politicization,” Koirala said. “None of them has raised any concern about restricting the role of the parties' sister organizations in the education sector. They have not said anything about allocating a percentage of the financial investment from the center, the provinces and local bodies for education, nor is there any clear vision about technical education under the local bodies,” he added.