Types of Schools in Nepal

In Nepal there are both public and private schools. Education in private schools is expensive and typically affordable only by the elite. Most private schools have English as the language of instruction, and many also utilize computers in the curricula. In 1995, there were 3,077 private primary schools, 2,417 private lower secondary schools, 1,370 private secondary schools, 332 private higher secondary schools, and 132 private tertiary schools. At the lower secondary and secondary levels the numbers were proportional to the public schools.

Traditional schools (pathshalas) provide a classical education emphasizing languages, particularly sanskrit. Tibetan Buddhist gompas (monasteries) in Himalayan region have traditionally provided education for Tibetan-related people, usually boys who were monks and studied to Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders. English schools are modeled after those in India. [Source: “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations”, Thomson Gale, 2007]

Many Nepalese students attend private schools in the belief that public education does not provide adequate education. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 14.7 percent of primary school enrollment and 27.8 percent of secondary enrollment. The rate is higher now. In the early 2000s, there were around 8.500 private schools with 1.5 million students in Nepal. Families paid about $5 to $19 per month for tuition, which was a lot for some low-income families.

The education system has been so privatized that a huge learning gap has opened up those that can afford private schools and those that can’t. The facilities at private schools are noticeably better. Many families try to live in Kathmandu where they have access to the best schools. Children at these school dress in crisp, clean uniforms and study in English and Nepali.

There is huge discrepancy between private and public schooling a major social injustice. Uttam Sanjel, the founder of Bamboo School’s for the poor told AFP. “There are two kinds of schooling. The public school students do not know how to speak in English even when they leave school. The private school students can send emails to their parents from grade two.This is not how it should be. It is wrong because it will create two kinds of citizen.”

Elite Schools in Nepal

Budhanilkantha is a boys boarding school in Nepal traditionally funded by the British government. It has been attended by many members of the royal family and the Rana clan. Even so it is known for its tough, discipline-oriented and Spartan conditions. Students have numbers and sleep in a dormitory.

Kathmandu has a British school, a French school, a Norwegian school and the Mount Genius English School. The Lincoln School, a private coeducational day school founded by USAID in 1954, provides an educational program from kindergarten through grade 12 for students of all nationalities. Enrollment averages 250 students and usually represents more than 30 nationalities. Approximately a third of the students are American and up to a quarter Nepali or Tibetan. [Source: “Cities of the World”, The Gale Group Inc., 2002]

According to “Cities of the World”: “The school is administered by an American-recruited and-trained principal who directs 30 full-and part-time teachers, 20 Nepalese teaching assistants, and several native language teachers. Facilities include 21 classrooms, an auditorium, gymnasium, library/instructional center, computer center, music room, outdoor reading areas, and a 2½ acre athletic field.

“The Lincoln School curriculum is based on the U.S. public school system of education but more recently encompasses an internationalized curriculum to reflect the needs of the diverse student body. Instruction is in English. Kindergarten is a comprehensive school preparation program. Grades 6 to 8 are departmentalized, with students moving from one subject teacher to the next for languages, mathematics, social studies, science, and computers. A variety of extracurricular activities also are offered, either by teacher specialists or regular staff. The high school students follow a similar program but are even more mobile according to their broader curriculum needs. Nepal studies, including language and culture, is offered, and the trek program takes students in grades 5 to 12 into mountain villages for up to 14 days in the fall or spring. Students in all grades bring their lunch from home, as the school does not have a kitchen.

Poor Quality Nepalese Public Schools and Their Poor Students

Rupak D Sharma of Asia News Network wrote: “At the library of Sishu Shishu Kalyan Primary School in Bharatpokhari, around 10km from scenic western city of Pokhara in Nepal, a drawing hanging on the wall shows a cigarette and a cross on top of it. The title of the sketch warns: “Don’t Smoking”. This gives a hint of the quality of English that the primary school is offering. Ironically, the state-owned Shishu Kalyan has recently changed its language of instruction from Nepali to English to compete with private schools in the locality, which were attracting more students due to their English medium courses. The initiative taken by this school — where most of the government-run institutions fail to adapt to change as long as they get state subsidy — is praiseworthy. But what kind of products will it generate is a big question. [Source: Rupak D Sharma, Asia News Network, February 2008]

“This low quality of education is feared to take a toll on the children of poor families. As is known, most of the students attending public schools belong to economically disadvantaged families. These families do not even earn US$1 a day and thus cannot afford expensive private school education. Low quality education in this segment means imparting knowledge and skills that will not get recognition in the market. In today’s knowledgebased society, where people can also generate self-employment through the education, low quality education will ultimately force them and their families to stay in the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.

“Another important feature of the students belonging to economically disadvantaged families is that they are first generation learners whose parents have never attended school and do not know the true value of education. If these first generation learners do not see tangible benefits of formal education, they, like their parents, will not consider going to school a worthwhile mission. This may increase their chances of dropping out of school, Rakha Rashid, education specialist of United Nations Children’s Education Fund (Unicef) tells AsiaNews on the sidelines of United Nations Girls Education Initiative (Ungei) Global Advisory Committee meeting held recently in Kathmandu, Nepal.

“So who should be blamed for this situation?. A study conducted among 400,000 students in 3,000 schools worldwide concluded that “while school quality is an important determinant of student achievement, the most important predictor is teacher quality”. In Nepal, schools located in difficult terrain and schools attended by linguistic minority groups suffer from lack of trained teachers. But in some cases it is also apathy of teachers. In countries like Nepal, public school teachers usually draw more salary than private school teachers and are at times better trained than private school teachers. However, their performance seems to be lagging behind mainly due to their focus on their private businesses rather than on school work.

Bamboo Schools for Nepal`s Poor

AFP reported from Kawasoti, about 200 kilometers west of Kathmandu: When Uttam Sanjel began giving reading classes to street children in the Nepalese capital in the 1990s, he had little idea what his small teaching scheme would one day turn into. This month, the 35-year-old Kathmandu native who was once an aspiring Bollywood actor, opened his tenth school in Nepal and revealed ambitious plans to provide affordable education for all children in the Himalayan nation. [Source: AFP, August 27, 2009]

Between 2001 and 2009, Sanjel “built up a nationwide network of schools that offer an education for just 100 rupees (1.40 dollars) a month in one of the world’s poorest countries. They are built using only the cheapest materials — earning them the nickname “bamboo schools” — with funds donated by local businesspeople and charitable organisations. “I want every child to benefit from my schools,” Sanjel told AFP after hosting a colourful opening ceremony for his latest addition in this village in western Nepal. “No child should be left out of school because the family can’t afford to pay for education. “When the current political turmoil is over in Nepal, we will need educated people to build this country.”

“When Sanjel built his first school in 2001, Nepal was in the grip of a 10-year civil war between Maoist rebels and the army in which at least 13,000 people died. The conflict ended in 2006, but political stability remains elusive and more than half the population still lives beneath the poverty line. Nonetheless, education is highly prized and many families scrimp to send children to fee-paying schools that offer classes in English rather than to the Nepali-language government schools.But a private education remains out of the reach of many in the Himalayan nation, where the average annual income is just 470 dollars.

“Sanjel said he wanted to offer a better alternative to the free government schools in Nepal. Bus driver Dol Raj Subedi is sending his eldest son to Sanjel’s new school, and says he wishes he could have had the same opportunity as a child. “Driving is hard work. I am not very well and my back hurts a lot,” said the 37-year-old, who earns 150 rupees a day. “If I was educated, if my parents had sent me to school, I think it would have been different. “All I care about is good education for my children. This new system of education in my village has helped me to get that.”

Sanjel has won awards in Nepal for his work in the education sector, but he admits he did not excel at school, and says he never considered teaching as a career option. He spent seven years in Mumbai trying to realise his dream of becoming a Bollywood star before returning to Kathmandu where, finding himself at a loose end, he began teaching classes for street children. “I thought only a couple would show up. But around 100 children took part and started learning enthusiastically. I was overwhelmed,” Sanjel told AFP.

The experience inspired him to start the first of his network of schools — called Samata, or Equality Schools, on the outskirts of Kathmandu with just 100 students. Now, that school alone educates 3,500 pupils and in all, Sanjel has 18,000 children in his care. “There were hardships along the way,” he told AFP. “At one point I hid inside a toilet cubicle for two hours because I did not have money to pay the construction contractors. “I was not able to pay the teachers’ salaries for three whole months and it was always difficult to pull together enough money to pay the staff. But if you are persistent, you will succeed.”

The Bamboo Schools were still going strong in the mid 2000s. In 2014, Samata was the largest chain of private schools in Nepal with 38,000 students, 75 per cent of them girls, in 19 districts across the country. The branch In Kathmandu offered undergraduate and postgraduate courses. At that time 1,500 students had graduated from Samata with the School Leaving Certificate and enrolled in higher education, with some becoming doctors, nurses, chartered accountants and journalists. Because the tuition is so low the institution struggles financially. It often has a hard time paying its staff on time each month and a large proportion of its shoe-string budget goes towards renewing the annual land leases. Donations keep the school going but they are not always sufficient. Sanjel he has to take out bank loans to keep the schools running.

Nepal Makes Yoga Mandatory for Schoolchildren

In 2020, Nepal made weekly yoga classes mandatory for schoolchildren — the first country in the world to do so. The government said it was part of an effort to promote health and exercise. Some Muslims and Buddhists felt is was part of an effort to promote Hinduism. Reporting from Kathmandu, Rajneesh Bhandari and Kai Schultz wrote in the New York Times: “A group of Nepali teenagers sat cross-legged at Bagmati Boarding School — palms up, eyes closed, sinking into the floor with each breath. An instructor began walking the students through meditation and vigorous physical exercises, culminating in a series of head and shoulder stands. “Yoga has really helped me care for myself,” said Abhiyan Bhatta, 15, who said he struggled with knee problems for years before enrolling in yoga lessons at the school in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. “I have healed my pain.” [Source: Rajneesh Bhandari and Kai Schultz, New York Times, March 16, 2020]

“Hundreds of thousands of elementary and junior high students will enroll in a new, weekly yoga course. Along with math, science, the Nepali language and English, the revised curriculum will teach students about the history of yogic thought, along with lessons on Ayurveda and naturopathy, a kind of alternative medicine that promotes self-healing. “Yoga is our ancient science,” Giriraj Mani Pokhrel, Nepal’s education minister, said in an interview. “We want students to learn it, and we think this is the right time.”

“School yoga programs have caught on around the world. In the United States, hundreds of public schools allot time for students to practice deep-breathing techniques and stress reduction exercises. In India, Nepal’s neighbor and a birthplace of yoga, some colleges and government schools already require students to take such courses, though it is not a national policy.

“But the new yoga requirement in Nepal has invited criticism in a region where the exercises are seen as inscribed with religious and ideological meaning, and increasingly intertwined with the rise of Hindu nationalism. Muslim groups have resisted chanting “Om,” a sacred sound in Hinduism, or performing the sun salutation, which they argue violates the monotheistic nature of Islam.

“In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has pushed a Hindu-first agenda, sun salutations and Sanskrit chants. The far right has yet to find the same foothold in Nepal, a secular democracy with a large Hindu majority…Nepal’s Muslim activists said they would protest the mandatory yoga course if students were required to do the sun salutation, a sequence of 12 poses dedicated to the Hindu god Surya, which government officials said was part of the new curriculum. And school administrators said they were still trying to figure out how the course would work in practice.

“The country is short on qualified yoga instructors, they said, and the government did not consult teachers before announcing the new class, which will replace physical activities and games like “hide the handkerchief.” “Making anything mandatory that relates to one particular religion is against the spirit of the Constitution,” said Nazrul Hussein, a former president of the Nepal Muslim Federation. “We cannot do the sun salutation and they should not link religion with health.”

“Nepali officials pointed that the government that changed the curriculum is led by the Nepal Communist Party, not by hard-line Hindus. They noted that only students in grades four through eight would be required to take the yoga class, and they said its focus was on promoting an active lifestyle. Older students can take the course as an elective. Ganesh Bhattarai, the director of Nepal’s Curriculum Development Center, the government body that designed the class, said it was not meant to favor any particular religion. Chanting “Om” is not part of the course, and students can skip the sun salutation if they feel uncomfortable, he said. “This course is for mass education,” he said. “Content against any religion is edited out.” Some students said they were ready for the new addition to their school day. As the yoga lesson ended at Bagmati Boarding School, the 30 or so students adjusted their uniforms, scribbled in notebooks and laced up their shoes. “I am so excited for this class,” said Shristi Tamang, a 14-year-old student. “Yoga is the art of living.”

Free Lunches Attract Students in Rural Nepal

In the district of Dailekh in rural Nepal, parents often struggle to send their children, particularly their daughters, to school. Now nutritious lunches, provided by the Government and supported by the World Food Programme (WFP) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), are providing an incentive for local girls to get an education. The WPA reported: “Seven-year-old Smriti walks an hour to get to school every day. For her and her friends who make the long journey from a small village in midwestern Nepal. [Source: by Sikha Thapa World Food Programme, September 6, 2016

“Poverty and food insecurity are widespread in Smriti’s district of Dailekh, as a result of high food prices and a series of natural disasters. Vulnerable families are forced to skip meals or sell their assets in order to buy food. The literacy rate, at 52 percent, is far below the overall national rate of 81 percent. Very often, parents struggle to feed their children or send them to school.

“School lunches give children the energy to get the most out of school. The National School Meals Programme, run by the Nepalese government with support of the USDA and WFP, helps struggling families by providing haluwa, a nutritious Nepalese dish made of fortified cereal, to over 190,000 school children across the country each day. The programme includes a focus on girls since many, even when they do attend school, struggle to combine their studies with the burden of household responsibilities. Educating children, particularly girls, provides a major step towards ensuring inclusive development, reducing poverty and discrimination, and improving food security.

Poor Children at One of Kathmandu’s Best Schools

Frankie Taggart of AFP wrote: “The gates of one of Nepal’s top private schools swing open and 20 children who hope to be the doctors, lawyers and scientists of tomorrow spill out into a smart Kathmandu suburb. But while their classmates come from the country’s wealthiest elite, these children were rescued seven years ago, dirty and sick, from a cowshed on the edge of the capital. “I want to be a pilot when I leave school. I’d like to study science at university, maybe in France,” says Rita Bhandari, 14, who is in the top two percent of her year group at the prestigious Gyanodaya Bal Batika School. [Source: Frankie Taggart, AFP, April 19, 2012]

Like her 19 friends, Rita was handed to traffickers in impoverished western Nepal by her family in the hope of giving her a life away from the brutal civil war then sweeping through the countryside. The children’s journey from the remote district of Humla saw them end up on the unforgiving streets of Kathmandu, where children are sold as sex slaves or forced into back-breaking labour in brick factories and mills.

“Their salvation came when they were discovered by Irish businessman Gene Lane-Spollen and his wife, Maura, who were visiting Nepal and heard about a group of children living in a cattle shed. “It was a cold March day and there was no sign of the children because it was dark,” said retired Coca-Cola executive, Gene, 64, who is based with his wife in France. “We went upstairs on a ladder and there was no light, no windows upstairs at all. When your eyes got used to the dark you could see something and then we realised the barn was full of kids. “There was one big string across the room with all the clothes chucked over it and there was nothing else — not even any straw on the floor.”

“Gene and Maura took all 20 children — who were then aged between three and nine — and set up a charity to house and educate them, enrolling the group in a local school to teach them to read and speak English and Nepali rather than their tribal language. “Over the course of the next couple of years we found the children were developing a real sense of ambition or competitiveness among themselves, even though they lived as a big family,” Gene said. The couple return frequently to monitor the pupils’ progress after appointing carers to instill a regime of study and discipline that has seen the youngsters catching and then even overtaking their more affluent classmates.

“Rita’s success is all the more remarkable given her start in life, losing her father in the 1996-2006 Maoist civil war and having to leave her mother and younger brother and sister behind when she was sent to Kathmandu. “Gene is like our godfather,” she told AFP. “He changed my life.” Most of the students have never been back to Humla and they get to ring home just once every other month, but many talk about returning one day. “I will go back to my village and I will try to develop it. I want to help other people by establishing a school,” said Basanta Budhathoki, 15. Chand Rai, who runs the home with his wife Menuka, says he feels “blessed” to be the group’s surrogate father. “My family is here. It’s not work, it’s living here with them,” he said.

Rai said the children were not treated differently by their more affluent classmates at school as they have earned respect by being good at sport and lessons. But he admitted problems occasionally arise when they see their richer friends enjoying cinema trips and other privileges. The children rise at 6: 00 am for prayers before their chores, and study for an hour before school. They are allowed an hour to unwind after classes but then it’s back to the books. “If there is an exam the senior boys will study until 10: 00pm or 11: 00pm,” said Rai. It is the strict routine which sets the home apart from other care centers in Kathmandu, where children are left to their own devices and often end up back on the streets. But it is not cheap: accommodation and schooling costs for the group costs around 2.8 million rupees ($35,000) a year, with Gene and Maura covering most of the expense and donors making up the rest. “If they have good food, good medicine, good management and a good school, there’s nothing to stop them,” said Gene. “They can be whatever they want.”

source : https://factsanddetails.com/south-asia/Nepal/Education_Health_Transportation_Infrastructure_Nepal/entry-7865.html#chapter-12

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