A lopsided dealDespite heavy investment in education, students’ performance is far from satisfactory
The overall performance of students in secondary schools remains unsatisfactory though. The latest National Assessment of Student Assessment (Nasa) report clearly illustrates this fact.
The annual per capita investment for school level students was around Rs 8,500 for academic session 2011-12 when the assessment was first conducted. The investment was increased by over 30 percent to Rs 11,400 when the second assessment was carried out two years later. The increment in teachers’ salary, scholarship and infrastructure development led to the surge in per capita cost.
The investment was increased to bring positive results in students’ performance. However, the second Nasa report which was made public last week shows dismal results.
According to the report, students’ performance is deteriorating despite heavy investment in education. The average learning achievement of eighth graders has gone down from 45 percent in 2011-12 to 41 percent in 2013-14.
The second Nasa report indicates that teachers are failing to create learning environment for their students, say education experts.
“Investment alone cannot bring desired results unless teachers feel that the students’ performance reflects their teaching capability,” said Mana Wagle, an education expert.
According to the report, teachers’ commitment and their teaching methods, and the students’ socio-economic condition are important factors that determine the level of learning achievement in students. If teachers are regular in class, give students assignments, and provide feedback regularly, the reports states, students’ performance in that school is better than the students from those schools that do not employ such teaching approach.
Performance of students in schools that give regular assignments and feedback is 16 percent higher than those schools where there is no such system, according to the report.
The report has also revealed that negative attitude of teachers and poor learning environment in schools have significant impact in students’ performance. The average performance of students in schools where teachers have good conduct is 51 percent against 35 percent for students who go to schools with bad learning environment.
Additionally, family support is also a key factor to determine how well students perform academically. The report mentions if a mother encourages her children to study, their performance at school could increase significantly.
Similarly, the students from private schools are likely to outperform the students from public schools. On an average, students who attend private schools have 65 percent learning achievement level against 42 percent for students who go to public schools. The highest difference in learning achievement level is in Mathematics in which the performance of the students from private schools is 57 percent while for the students from public schools is just 26 percent.
Experts say that lack of good math and science teachers is responsible for students’ poor performance in these subjects. In many schools in rural parts of the country, teachers appointed to teach subjects like Nepali and social studies also teach math and science.
Bidhya Nath Koirala, another education expert, sees lapses in the existing education policy for poor students’ performance. He says that the adoption of liberal promotion policy without properly examining its consequences is also responsible for the present state of education in secondary schools.
Ten years ago, the government adopted a system which has a provision of not failing students up to grade seven. It had an objective of continuous assessment of students, remedial support for those who have poor performance and promotion of classes every year. But teachers have been found passing poor students and not offering them any remedial support to help improve their performance, says Koirala, “It is high time that we reviewed our teaching/learning system.”