The school of failureLocal governments should invest in quality education at the school level.
The errors in the English translation of question papers of Social Studies prepared by Bansgadhi Municipality in Bardiya for students of grade five of both private and public schools of the local unit betray the inconsistencies in the education system. Similarly, there were errors in the question papers prepared by Chaunri Deurali Rural Municipality in Kavrepalanchok and Mithila Municipality in Dhanusha. The Local Government Operation Act-2015 has envisioned transferring the burden of school education up to grade 12 and conducting and monitoring examinations up to grade 8. However, the apathy of local government authorities when it comes to ensuring quality education has raised questions about the capabilities of some local governments in handling basic-level education as envisaged by the Constitution of Nepal.
The blame for such grave errors goes to the government itself, for it has failed to keep education at the forefront of its priorities. As a result, the education sector has suffered from underinvestment. For the current fiscal year, the government has allocated Rs180 billion for the sector, which constitutes only 4.2 percent of the total GDP. The federal conditional grant is the primary source of revenue for local governments in supporting basic and secondary education. With the government spending 74 percent of the total expenditure on the salary of teachers, the quality of education seems to be in disarray.
In addition, the federal government lacks a Federal Education Act, due to which it has become hard to define the responsibilities of different tiers of the government and distribute the resources. The local governments in Nepal lack qualified and competent human resources. That said, expecting anything more from them is unworthy of our hopes. The government should come up with the act as soon as possible and work to ensure that local governments and authorities can handle the examinations directly tied to students' futures. The federal government should also ensure that the District Education Offices under its jurisdiction cooperate with local level governments to enhance education quality through training and resource sharing.
It is also a matter of willpower and determination to think seriously about children's issues and education. Children and their issues are often overlooked when authorities have a long list of other unimportant issues. Local authorities must recognise that there are also concerns of children and quality of education that they must address and work on maintaining quality in their performance. After all, it is what they learn at a young age that the children take with them to their professional lives. The local government should keep track of acts like question paper errors, which may not seem important to local authorities but can cause significant harm to students' lives. In the first five years, local governments have acted as if they believe development only means an extraordinary focus on infrastructure development. But that should not be the case. Instead, they should equally focus on the upliftment of the school education system that ensures long-term development of the local level and the country itself.