We are all aware that the Ministry of Education has put forward various schemes envisaging transformation in overall education. As soon as the government unveiled a plan to improve the quality of education, the effects of the corona virus began to spread around the world. Nepal could not remain untouched by that. As soon as Kovid-19 was started, various debates took place on the question of what can be done in education. As the outbreak escalated, various committees were formed to look for alternatives. Research was conducted on ‘Alternatives to Education Now’, ‘Covid and Literacy’, ‘Scientific Research’, ‘Technological Development’, ‘Medical College’ and Universities Lab Operations ’and‘ The Impact of Covid on Education as a whole ’. After a long study and research on the subject, the committee prepared a report and submitted it to the Ministry.
The Ministry of Health and Home Affairs is a little more active in Corona Kahar. Despite this, the Ministry of Education has continued its initiatives and discussions. It was said that alternative education is the main issue now. At the same time, to bring a formal ‘U-turn’ in education, Covid has made us aware of three issues. While envisioning a manpower that can compete with the world market, we have to look for alternatives to the traditional education system while planning to provide suitable education and produce skilled students. Similarly, the necessity of online distance education has increased. There is an obligation to develop technology in education. After all, the development of today’s technology complements the direct teaching method of tomorrow. That’s why Kovid has created a compelling situation where we have to think seriously and plan when it comes to bringing technology together in education.
It is said that a negative issue can bring positive change and results at any time. As in the case of Nepal, the Kovid outbreak has provided a golden opportunity to change the social momentum and style. We have done important work in the field of education with the feeling that we should not shy away from this opportunity. It has been requested to make a guideline in school education and implement it from June 20. It was necessary to further manage it and make the local level responsible for school education. The local level was requested to make the teaching materials produced by the ministry available to the students at the local level. For that, up to Rs. 300,000 has been provided to the municipality having up to 50 schools. Similarly, Rs 4 lakh has been given to the local level with up to 100 schools and up to Rs 5 lakh to the local level with more than 100 schools.
About six months have passed since the impact of Kovid started in Nepal and people’s life became chaotic. Until then, children are forced to stay at home. We are still not clear on how long this situation will last or what the alternative will be. Therefore, with the objective of not hindering the study of children, we decided to mobilize schools and teachers to teach through virtual methods. This practice has been used by some private and some community schools before. We recognized the virtual classroom to encourage and facilitate others. In any case, we do not want the academic session to be confused. For that, a plan to reach out to children through four methods has been made public. (1) Delivering textbooks (2) Radio, FM reading (3) Television and cable education (4) Online education.
It is our intention that students should not miss out on any of the methods mentioned above. Our understanding was that if we could complete the work of delivering textbooks to the children of all levels and regions, they could be taught in any way. After the book was published, various programs were run targeting children who had access to online. Then the second method used television and cable. The Government of Nepal has given priority to the production and broadcasting of television programs. The private sector produced and broadcast programs at the central and local levels. Radio programs were aired for children in remote areas without access to television. Classes were conducted on local and national radio stations across the country. There were various arguments on virtual education. It was criticized in the media and social media for not being implemented effectively. But realistically, the virtual classroom was more successful than expected. Most of the local levels enthusiastically tried to implement it. There was work to produce, distribute content targeted to children, and connect to the Internet for free in various places.
The university was instructed to go online as soon as the covid started and the work has been started accordingly. In discussions with the heads of all the universities, we have repeatedly discussed the issue of how to make university education digital even in the current and future comfortable environment where Kovid is having an impact. Now the university has been instructed to make a six-month academic calendar. The new calendar will probably be public within a week.
Decision making and publication of results of SEE examination from assessment method was another complex issue for us. We had no choice but to break the three-hour exam method. The decision to give the school concerned the right to evaluate the student was challenging. However, the work has been successful. It has been decided to give class 11 examination to the school along with the increasing number of outbreaks. The class 12 examination has been stopped due to the last of the school education. But if the outbreak continues like this, there is no alternative but to hand over the responsibility to the concerned school. In the past, 45 days of alternative education curriculum was prepared and implemented. Now the ministry is moving forward to make it the basic method. The process has already begun. Work is underway to reduce the curriculum to ensure the academic session. It will be public in a few days.
Due to the economic, social and cultural environment of the society, it is difficult to make full use of alternative education right now. But, there is no alternative. Our concept is to make home a school. Students should develop the concept of self-learning in collaboration with parents and teachers. The procedure on how to make parents and students accountable under the alternative system is going to be made public in a few days. At present, the school cannot be run due to fear. Therefore, the virtual class must be recognized. However, its management has become and continues to be a complex issue. At a time when the implementation of federalism is moving forward and the responsibility of school education has been given to the local level, the local levels should be responsible for how to manage the virtual classroom.
Even now, in some places, students have not received books. The local level should give priority to distributing books to the children in the villages. The task of tracing the location of the student and giving the responsibility of distributing the book to the teacher of the same area can be taken forward. The local level can distribute the book by adopting security precautions. Most community school teachers have not yet become responsible and creative when it comes to making virtual classrooms responsible. The local level should also play a role in making teachers responsible. It is also about how much attention the local level pays to the question of how to bring alternative education. Depends on their initiative and interest. The federal government will set the criteria and send it, the local government will implement it. The Ministry has made an effort to work on time. Discussions have moved forward on the issue of private schools by giving the concept of virtual classroom management and fee determination to the local level. This issue will also be resolved soon.
Apart from that, the government is putting forward various schemes in terms of ‘development of technology’ and ‘permanent use’ in education. We are discussing the concept of opening a television school. The government has started discussions on the issue of running separate televisions targeting basic level children in the morning, secondary level students in the afternoon and university level students in the evening. Discussions with service providers have moved forward with the aim of giving children access to the Internet.
Now we have to be careful about the management of virtual education and making home a school. From within the home, children can be connected to skills, culture and technology. Most of the topics used in daily life can be a source and medium of knowledge for children. Children can be educated from within the home. In the past, we were here to miss. We said that education is provided only by schools. We did not prioritize home education. We did not make practical use of school textbooks at home. Therefore, we did not find efficiency while producing manpower. There was knowledge, there was no skill. Where does knowledge without skills work? Knowledge without skill only creates confusion. The same illusion was created by our education in the past. Now we must connect education with skill, culture, ethics and conduct. Every educated youth should be able to recognize the fragrance of the soil. Every educated person should be connected with production and rejoice in the deeds he has done in his homeland. Water, forest, land and herbs should be used properly. Production should be given priority. For that, we need to change the teaching method and style. Education must be linked to technology and production. We are preparing for that. Kovid has created an opportunity for change.
Of course, even in developed countries, online education is not easy. Even in developed countries, the number of infected people is increasing when schools are opened. Educational management is difficult. It takes time. However, if we can all exercise patience and discretion, Nepal’s education sector will make strides even in complex situations. If students, teachers, parents, local and federal governments are responsible, then of course, educational management will be simple and easy. The Ministry is always keen on educational management and development.