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Monday, March 21, 2011

Educational Disaster

Education can be meaningful only when the syllabus is relevant and when the students enjoy learning. For a human being to gain knowledge and develop his skills, he must have education. In this modern world, education is the only thing that will help a person to survive in life. However, a person may not always benefit from the education he gets. Today many college graduates are unemployed. The education they have received is not suitable for the market trend in the country.

Theory vs practice

Our education provides more theoretical knowledge than practical skills. The syllabus has not changed for years. The education system is not only outdated but also unrealistic due to the inefficient examination system. Evaluation of a student is still based on the examinations held in the last month of the academic year. This gives many students sleepless nights for one or two months before the examination date, and only encourages rote learning.

In return, these university graduates fail to find suitable jobs according to the degrees they hold. The syllabus is also not relevant to the need of the job market and not designed either to meet the demand of the market or to become self-employed. The unemployed youths are compelled to seek work outside the country. Many of them head for the Gulf countries and Malaysia to engage in menial work for little pay. This shows how education can be meaningless when the syllabus is not relevant.

However, with the introduction of the new education policy, there is a ray of hope. The secondary level syllabus has been replaced with a new one. Many new courses have been introduced along with more emphasis on technical education. With the re-introduction of internal assessment, the examination system has improved to a higher level as it makes the colleges more responsible for evaluating their students. The syllabus of the higher secondary level has undergone many changes to make it relevant to the changing world.

Recently, Tribhuvan University has added a year to the three-year Bachelor’s degree course to bring it at par with global standards. The university, being the oldest and the largest in the country, is planning to introduce a number of changes to improve the examination and academic system in the coming years. We expect university graduates to become more competent in the global market in the future.

Teaching skills and techniques also play an important role in the students’ learning process. Senior volunteer Fujikawa of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) once told me of his experience while attending one of the workshops conducted by an Education Training Centre (ETC) to improve the quality of science education in the country.

During the workshop, one trainer conducted a lesson on Teaching Classification of Elements. During the training, what Fujikawa observed was that he spoke a lot. And during the whole lecture, he only used a chart of the Periodic Table of the Elements. The next day, the training coordinator conducted the lesson on Decomposition of Materials. The puzzled Japanese volunteer told me that if teachers could understand the natural system, they could teach the problems of garbage management in their schools. During his visit to different parts of the country, he often noticed that a lot of Nepalese threw garbage everywhere anytime.

He was amazed that many trainers were teaching without using materials - posters, photos, pictures, PC and so on. He felt these lessons were, to put it in his own words, educational disasters. He suggested that the trainers and teachers need to bring changes in their views and thinking. Growing up means change, he said. If they could change, they would give hope to Nepal.

We often notice that most of the students find difficulty with one or more subjects during at least one of the years in their academic life. It may be that the students do not like these subjects and cannot understand what their teachers are teaching. When students fail to pass the examination, the teachers blame the students for not studying hard, while students identify the teachers as the cause of the problem, and the parents blame the teachers for not teaching well.

However, students, who enjoy learning particular subjects, always feel they have a better understanding of the subject matter than others. In fact, they show better performance in those subjects compared to others.

Counselling

Some students show confusion when it comes to selecting the subject they want to take up in higher studies. They are unable to identify their hidden capacities and market demand. They eventually end up with the wrong choice of subjects. Thus, they cannot enjoy learning in their study, and their performances begin to decrease.

Hence, they cannot succeed in higher education. As a result, they gain little knowledge that can be practically applied. Their education will not be able to make them competent enough to compete in the job market. At this stage of life, they will feel that their education is not relevant in leading a useful life. These students need counselling regarding the choice of subjects before they join college. Based on the priority and interest of the students, they must be given the liberty to choose the subject of their choice. Only then will they enjoy learning and show good performance in their studies.

source: Raj Shrestha, 22 March 2011, rising nepal

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