KATHMANDU, Nov 1: Education experts have stated that if the political parties do not make ‘Literate Nepal Campaign’ their main agenda, the government’s announcement of removing illiteracy within three years will never reach its goal. Starting from next month, the government plans to educate 1.38 million illiterate people through the campaign.
36,000 centers will be involved in the nationwide campaign for which the government has granted 1.38 billion rupees. Education experts have criticized that it is just the government’s plan to finish the budget.
Bidyanath Koirala, education expert, states that the political parties are the main barriers of the campaign. He claims that since the parties did not include literacy anywhere in their announcement letter, they would not place any importance on the campaign. “They don’t believe in working for no visible returns so the political parties will not work towards the literacy campaign,” he says, “Hence, the government should encourage and award those communities, wards, VDC and individuals who contribute towards helping the campaign.”
Another education expert, Bishnu Karki gives an example of how political parties in foreign countries help in making their literacy campaigns successful. He says that the political parties here should make this campaign their main agenda. The literacy campaign started four years ago with encouragement from foreign authorities was not really fruitful, he states.
Karki recounts how Cuba’s political parties, in its transition phase, listed their literacy campaign in their announcement letter and made ‘Education Holiday’ a success. “In our country, no political party has an interest in this campaign and thus, there is likelihood that the literacy campaign may be unsuccessful,” he says, “If the government goes ahead with the much needed skill based curriculum then the campaign will be a success.”
Students of class nine at Padini Sanskrit School in Lamjung during a class.
This year too, the government has proceeded with the campaign through the Ministry of Education, Education Department and Informal Education. Since the problems of 75 districts and more than 4000 Village Development Committees are varied and different, the curriculum should be developed according to what is needed, he advices.
However, another education expert, Gunaraj Lohani, says that ‘Literate Nepal Campaign’ is just a game to finish the budget. “The campaign was initiated to give away money to the political parties’ cadres,” he stated, adding, “Where is the positive gain in the campaign started during Prachanda’s term as Prime Minister? The parties are just in a hurry to finish the money donated.”
There are 28,000 preliminary child development centers in 33,000 community schools in the country. 28,000 assistants are working for minimal wages in these centers. Lohani says that if the government involves these assistants in the campaign then some positive developments can arise. “More than just bookish knowledge, stress should be on turning illiteracy to literacy through skill development,” he opines.
To make the campaign a success, informal education center’s section officer, Duttakriya Dahal, states that the curriculum for students of class nine and 10 stresses on turning illiterates into literates. Likewise, education exercises of high school students of education faculty have been linked with the campaign in a policy by the government. Dahal informs that the center, with the coordination of the under secretaries from the District Education Offices, has established informal education branches.
Four years ago, the government had started a literacy campaign with ‘Education For All’ program. As the result of the program wasn’t very encouraging, the government plans to start with eradicating illiteracy by linking the campaign with a student’s curriculum.
“The center, in order to make the literacy campaign a success, has requested the government to give a cash prize of Rs 100,000 and other awards to any community, ward or individual who works to contribute in the campaign’s success,” says Dahal, “The Ministry of Finance and the National Planning Commission have already agreed to it. It needs to be approved by the Cabinet.”
An individual turned literate through the campaign will be evaluated by a nearby school or community education center. The individual’s literacy will be certified by the center itself.