NOTE: Please read Part 1 and Part 2 before commenting on this article and moderation for publishing
You can’t make an omelette without first breaking some eggs, and no, the Buddha didn’t say that!
In Part 2 of this series we described how those implementing the SSRP, and therefore by association Nepal’s Ministry of Education, bilateral donors and large INGOs had put the cart before the horse, ignoring the quality of education delivered in schools and focusing on enrolments and infrastructure instead. We are on record as pointing this out in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 so nobody can accuse us of applying hindsight to something that couldn’t be foreseen. The tragedy is that retention rates, exam passes, SLC results actually got worse during this time, and STILL nobody was held accountable.
What we can assert however is that during our development work in 200 Nepali schools we consistently pointed out a list of “eggs that needed breaking” to arrive at a better omelette of quality education, and these included:
- A teaching workforce which is undertrained and unmotivated
- Poor implementation of new teaching methods post training
- A culture of politicisation and unionisation
- Teaching pedagogies which focus more on the teacher than the child • A completely outmoded curriculum with no elements of moral or social education • Assessment strategies based purely on “remembering” at the expense of “understanding and applying”
- Physical school environments which are often unsafe, unhygienic and unfriendly for young children
- A complete lack of resources for use in the classroom
- A closed system of teacher appointments as opposed to one which is open and competitive
Principals with no training in basic management, governance, staff development or educational leadership
- No opportunities for young, motivated, newly trained teachers
- Very poor quality teacher training from DoE and DEOs
The key question now is “what was the response of this triad of MoE, bilateral donors and INGOs? Here’s another list:
- A meeting and presentation to NCED being met with a demand to hand over all our programme materials with a refusal to have their staff trained by us in the whole school development process.
- Complete refusal from DFID and British Council to engage with us, observe or monitor our programme methods.
- DEO offices in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur refusing to grant the required permission for teachers to attend our free training.
- Last minute cancellations by MoE of meetings with NSA (UK) chairman arranged only one day prior to flights back to UK.
- INGOs distancing themselves from our staff offering to collaborate on programme observation and exchange.
- KU educationalists failing to show academic or practical interest in a staff member researching quality education definition and development as part of a sponsored MPhil.
- The new SSDP committee ignoring our two years of research into quality education in Nepal, freely offered to them, despite this being the reason for the committee’s existence.
- The Social Welfare Council taking 9 months to renew our NGOs registration in 2015 effectively blocking the legal transfer of funds from the UK to pay our staff salaries!!!
Imagine the cumulative effect of all of these acts of hindrance and virtual intimidation on our team of young women? Utterly soul destroying to them, and no wonder they gave up and walked away from helping their country in 2016.
So let’s end with some important quotes:
1. SSDP Consultant Dr Vishnu Karki said SSRP focused only on reforms in the education sector and hence could not bring about qualitative change. “But SSDP will maintain a balance between reform and developmental activities, simultaneously. As there had been a massive investment in SSRP, school infrastructures had been built and minimum enabling conditions had been created in schools. But these things were only peripheral development.” He added that the focus now would be on student learning outcomes.”
2. Speaking at a programme today, (July 2016) joint secretary at the education ministry Dr Laba Deo Awasthi said that the programmes implemented in the past was investment-oriented and that the SSDP would be result-oriented. “We focused on systemic strengthening in the past, while the new programme will strengthen measures to bring quality in student learning outcomes,” he said.
Have you ever read such gobbledegook? Or more importantly let’s compare what Dr Awasthi and Dr Karki said above with the official description of the SSRP purpose and objective at the time of publication, here it is:
The primary objective of the School Sector Reform Project is to improve the schooling outcomes at the primary level by increasing access to and improving equity and quality of primary education, at the same time support the Government reform program to consolidate the school sector to cover basic (Grades 6-8) and secondary (Grades 9-12) education.The estimated total project cost is approximately US$ 2,600 million. ………… The program will focus on the following three pillars of Access, Inclusion, and Quality:(i) Basic Education(ii) Secondary Education(iii) Institutional Capacity Strengthening………
Anybody spot the discrepancy? Anybody want to speak up about it? Thought not!
(For those of you interested in our materials and research visit the Nepal Education page and peruse what is available then simply send us your request via the form on the About/Contact page)