KATHMANDU, Oct 15: According to the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES), there are about six million students and approximately 110,000 teachers in nearly 25,000 public schools in Nepal; and until 2005, the student-teacher ratio in mountain, hilly and Tarai regions were 40:1, 45:1 and 50:1 respectively.
The pupil-teacher ratio; primarily in Nepal, was reported at 29.61 in 2011, according to a World Bank report published in 2012.
Teachers and students tend to have a conflictual relationship. Considering the fact that students spend approximately six to seven hours a day in school under the supervision of their teachers, the attitudes reflected in classrooms prevent those hours from being productive. Lack of good communication, respect in classroom and interest to teach/learn is not the right kind of atmosphere for imparting knowledge.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer John Tracy Kidder has stated that “Most teachers have little control over school policy or curriculum or choice of texts or special placement of students, but most have a great deal of autonomy inside the classroom. To a degree shared by only a few other occupations, such as police work, public education rests precariously on the skill and virtue of the people at the bottom of the institutional pyramid.”
With good communication and certain code of conduct and discipline within the periphery of the classroom, a teacher can influence students on a great level. Every student looks for an ideal teacher, someone they can look up to but the stereotypical notion that teachers are supposed to be strict has restricted creative communication in Nepal’s schools and colleges.
Discipline has been mistaken for autonomous teaching process which, without interaction, gets dull and students eventually find different ways to distract themselves.
Dibesh Manandhar, 18, who is studying Bachelor in Computer Information System at Apex College, says he doesn’t understand what teachers teach in class.
“I’m interested in Programming. Apart from that, I don’t understand anything in any other subjects. But I let it go because no matter how many times they try to explain it, I still don’t get it.”
How many of you raise your hands in class when you haven’t understood the solution to a Math problem? Or what that imagery in the third stanza is supposed to mean? We would rather copy homework from friends and memorize formulae with little or no knowledge instead of getting up and asking the teacher to repeat until you finally understand.
“Some students are shy by nature and it’s not that they aren’t enthusiastic. In most cases, though, students hesitate to put forward their doubts because they are embarrassed or ashamed in front of the class. Because nobody else is asking questions, a student tends to think that s/he’s the only one who hasn’t understood the lesson. The inferiority complex gets in the way to their curiosity,” says Sabita Kapruwan, senior school in-charge at Triyog Higher Secondary School.
Kapruwan, who teaches tenth graders, says she makes it a point to follow up on passive students in her class since it’s the most crucial stage of their lives, in terms of age, education and maturity level. She adds, “From subject teachers to class teachers and professional counselors, we all try to go that extra mile to help students whom we see as not being very vocal about their doubts and confusion.”
She is, however, of the belief that these kinds of problems can be solved by teachers themselves and doesn’t need counseling. As long as teachers make students comfortable and welcome to sharing their ideas and counter arguments, students will respect the intellectual freedom given to them and respond accordingly.
“Some students, I’ve noticed, don’t concentrate in class at all but there are a few who try really hard to understand and yet can’t get the gist of what the teacher is trying to explain,” says Dipen Ghale who teaches students from class five to seven at Dhumbarahi Public School. “The problem is that instead of listening to the teacher say the same thing over and over again, they look for a short and easy way out, like copying homework, avoiding tests and mugging up paragraphs only to write them down in chunks.”
“I can make out students who do their homework and those who copy. I tell all my students to do their assignments themselves and I’m willing to correct their work over and over again until I find it satisfactory,” says Kapruwan.
The busy schedules of most parents leave them very little time to check up on their children, their progress in school and the remarks in their school diaries. That puts teachers in the position of full responsibility.
The act of classroom nepotism and the race to finish off courses are very common in educational institutions; and during this process, most students let their inquisitiveness slide. And quality education is lost within these schemes.