Nepali Times Asian Paints
Update
Community schools under pressure



Over 2,000 community-managed schools, regarded as Nepal's best model for public education in rural areas, have been reeling under severe political pressure from the Maoist-affiliated All Nepal National Free Students Union-Revolutionary (ANNFSU-R), as well as government teachers. A large number of these schools have either been locked up or have had their classes disrupted on a regular basis. This is causing serious concern among communities who had been handed over responsibilities of managing the schools from the government.

With funding support from the World Bank, the Ministry of Education has been decentralizing the public education system by supporting local communities in both rural and urban areas to independently manage the schools, for which each school receives a grant of Rs 100,000.

2,292 schools have been handed over to communities in 62 districts since 2003. The results, as evident from a 2006 World Bank study, have shown marked improvement in enrolment and retention of children especially in rural areas.

Nepal has one of the highest school dropout rates in the world, with nearly 70 percent of Nepali children between the ages of six to 10 years dropping out from public schools due to poverty, lack of teachers and poor management.

According to district education offices and local communities, the attendance of teachers and their performance have also enhanced after the hand over because the communities have been given the authority to hire and suspend any teacher neglecting their duty.

"Such homegrown initiative has proved to be a great local success," says Rajendra Joshi, a senior education specialist at the World Bank in Kathmandu.

Community development experts also believe that this concept should be promoted since there is no other credible alternative to the poor public education system in the country where over 4 million children under 15 are unable to attend school.

Meanwhile, according to sources, government teachers are reportedly working closely with the Maoist student's union to pressurise the government to take back management responsibilities. Many government-appointed teachers, fearing job insecurity, don't want to be supervised by a community of parents, farmers, local leaders and village teachers. "The decision (to hand over schools to communities) can have negative consequences," warned Baburam Adhikari, General Secretary of Nepal National Teachers Association.

(Source: IRIN News www.irinnews.org)



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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