Wednesday, February 23, 2011

4 - year bachelor's degree: freedom of choice or chaos?

There is a phenomenal growth in the number of educational institutions vis-à-vis subject areas they offer over the last decade. Consequently, students these days are at liberty to choose from a wide variety of study programs that will be of good career move.

Recent times have opened the floodgates of four-year bachelor’s degree offering a plethora of courses which are not only new to the educational scenario of the country but also of ‘international standards’.

In this edition of chitchat, Republica caught up with a few students who discussed both the advantages and shortcomings of today’s changing educational scenario and the so called ‘international quality courses’ colleges offer.

Pratibha Rana, 18, Hemant Karki, 18, Kamal Shahi, 18, Sujan Nepal, 18, and Prativa Kafle, 19, all of them university students, who participated in the discussion, had a lot to say.

“It’s a good thing that today we have more than just arts, management and science to choose from,” said Hemant Karki, opening the debate. His head nodding in agreement,

Sujan exchanged his views as to how sometimes the varied options could also lead to bewilderment among the students.

“It can become quite confusing sometimes, especially when you are young and open to everything; each new subject seems better than the other,” he said.

“I have something to say,” interrupted Prativa Kafle, supporting Sujan, “The confusion abounds because the counselors at colleges elaborate on the courses in such an exaggerated manner that students’ feel compelled to choose that particular subject.”

“The counselors should keep in mind the student’s interest and not the financial profit of the college; most of the times colleges tend to pressurize students seeking admissions to get enrolled in the most expensive study programs they offer,” put in Prathibha Rana.

The talk on college pressure to choose a particular tailor-made course of study was followed by a discussion on yet another drawback of educational institutions -- high tuition fee.

“Not all students can afford to pay a minimum of Rs 30,000 for a single semester, let alone large amount of miscellaneous expenses like the fee for examination form, study materials and so on,” voiced Kamal Shahi.

They also bemoaned that since these new subject areas lack books and references written by Nepali writers, they are compelled to use works of foreign authors.

 And these books, however, don’t come cheap. They simply add to their financial burden.

Apart from the soaring prices of textbooks, the students also shared the problem of text and graphics in the books that are not relevant. Relating to the contents, they complaint of emphasis being put on more foreign stuffs than local which students find difficult to relate to. So, are there absolutely no books by local writers?
“There are but a very few,” said Hemant, adding, “Tragically these books are Internet based.

” Pratibha Kafle supported his assertion arguing that the notes teachers provide them can be easily found on the Internet. “And that too ditto,” she said.

“Also, another issue in hand is, how even after choosing these newly introduced courses based on international curriculum, we students receive only few practical classes,” burst out Sujan. Similarly, the 12-week long internship required by such international courses before the completion of the course is hardly enough, these students say.

“Only terming the courses as ‘international standards’ definitely won’t do; we demand more presentations, field trips and also complete elimination of rot-learning tradition. This is possible only if the teachers accepted creative answers instead of exact copy of the book,” said Kamal.

Educational institutions have increased by leaps and bounds in the past few years. However, if we are to listen to the voices of the ones affected by them, they have earned little more than the title of ‘money-making enterprises’.

Low academic standards, crippling shortages of teachers, poor pedagogic training and antiquated curricula are some of the things students demand immediate attention to.

Wrapping up the discussion, all the participants finally agreed that there definitely is room for improvement and improvisation.
source: Sahara Sharma,