The formal beginning of school in Nepal was during the Rana period. Shri 3 Jung Bahadur Rana started the English school in 1910 BS on the ground floor of Dakhchok of Thapathali Durbar in Kathmandu. There the school was operated in Ranipokhari, which was called Durbar High School.
Only royal families could attend Durbar High School. Even in that, only Rana's children could read 'A class'. Towards the end of the Rana period, a small number of schools were opened so that all except the royal families could study. During the reign of Rana Prime Minister Padma Shamsher and Juddha Shamsher, Padmodaya, Juddhodaya, and Padma Kanya schools were established in Kathmandu. However, the establishment of a school for the children of the general public was possible only after democracy in 2007 BS. In 2005-2006 BS, there were only 6 schools (high schools) in Nepal. In 2011 BS, the number of schools reached 84. (Nepal National Education Planning Commission, 2011).
After 67 years, the number of schools in Nepal has reached about 35 thousand 674. There are 27 thousand 812 community schools in these. (EMIS Branch, Education, and Human Resource Development Center, 2077/078) Before the implementation of the National Education System Plan 2028 (NESP), most of the schools were established by the community. The school was run under the charity and control of the community. After the introduction of the money, the government took over the community schools and started investing, supervising, and controlling them. Private school was started after 2036 BS. After that, two classes of education gradually started appearing in Nepal. Due to the presence of private, community schools became less competitive in teaching. With the restoration of democracy in 2046 BS, the number of strong practice studies in community schools of private schools increased exponentially.
Private schools began to lag far behind the community in terms of academic results. As the 1970s draw to a close, about 5.7 million students in Nepal study in the community and 2.4 million in private schools. About 75 percent of the students are in community schools. The test results are reversed. As a result of SEE, 75-80 percent of the students have passed privately and only 20-25 percent of the community have passed.
The concept of a community school (Samudayik Bidhyalaya) in Nepal:
In the general sense, a school established on the initiative of the community and run under their supervision can be understood as a community. In the case of Nepal, the concept of community school seems to have come at two coincidences at the same time. One is the perspective of the successful practice of community forestry in Nepal and the other is the donor's 'proposal'.
Until 2057 BS, government-subsidized schools were considered government schools.
Moreover, before the National Education System Plan 2028, it was called 'Public School'. (Interview with Prof. Dr. Vidyanath Koirala, 2078) The National Education Planning Commission of 2011 stated that there are four types of schools in Nepal: 'Government', 'Government Aided', 'Independent' and 'National'. (Education in Nepal, 1956, pp. 30-31)
After 2028, the government nationalized all schools. After this, schools were called the government. After the emergence of privately funded schools in 2036 BS, two types of schools came into existence in Nepal. With the restoration of democracy in 2046 BS, the number of private schools, which had increased significantly, began to be higher than that of government schools. Due to this, the scope for improving the education of government schools began to increase.
In this context, before the Seventh Amendment to the Education Act, 2028 was passed in 2058 BS, the then government formed a high-level committee on education under the coordination of Nirmal Pandey, a member of the National Planning Commission.
Educationists Prof. Dr. Man Wagle and Dr. Shivaraj Lohani were also members of the committee. It is understood that on the proposal of Dr. Wagle and Dr. Lohani, the committee has recommended naming the government schools of Nepal as 'Community'. The credit for saving the community forest and the benefits from it was going to the community. In view of this, it has been proposed to call government schools 'community schools' in the belief that if the rights are given accordingly, there will be an improvement. (Interview with Dr. Wagle, 2078)
As per the recommendation of the committee, the seventh amendment of the Education Act 2028 was also made. D (2) of the same amended act states that 'community school' means a school that has received permission or sanction to receive a regular grant from the Government of Nepal. From the point of view of practice, community schools also looked like two types. One is the schools that receive regular grants, permits or even teacher posts from the government and the other is the schools that receive grants without posts.
Those who were given posts with the help of the World Bank were also 'taken to the management community. There were about 13,000 such community schools in the '60s. However, due to the disagreement of the stakeholders including the teachers, the program could not proceed smoothly. These schools are now operating as the first type of community school after the program to take them to the 'management community' was stopped.
Although the government has made arrangements for teacher posts, physical infrastructure, textbooks, and regulations, the school management committee is formed by the community and parents. And, the school administration is run by the decision of the committee itself. Therefore, from the point of view of practice, the progress/decline of community schools depends on the activism of the community itself.
Community school status:
Study reports conducted by the Educational Quality Testing Center several times between 2011 and 2019 have shown that the learning achievement of community school students in subjects like mathematics, English, and science is not more than 50 percent. A similar situation is shown by the results of SLC / SEE.
According to the teacher-student ratio, there are not enough teachers yet. There is inequality in the distribution of teacher posts. As per the rules, there should be one teacher for every 50 students in the Terai, 45 in the hills, and 40 in the Himalayan region. However, there are more than 200 teachers per teacher and 3 to 5 teachers per student. As there is no equity in matching the posts, the study working groups have suggested adding insufficient posts by matching immediately.
The Teacher Posts Redistribution Task Force 2075, convened by former Secretary to the Government of Nepal, Mahashram Sharma, had suggested that the excess posts at the primary level should be converted into insufficient lower secondary and secondary level.
In order to become an ideal school, 149 indicators of nine areas have to be fulfilled. (Child Friendly National Draft 2067) Similarly, 25 indicators have to be achieved to meet the minimum enabling condition of the school. Out of these, five minimum indicators (PMEC i.e. Priorities Minimum Enabling Condition) are considered as the basis.
There are community school toilets with teachers, textbooks, book corners, classrooms, and taps. It is important to have enough teachers and textbooks available on time according to the student ratio. Similarly, provision of the library for book corners and secondary students at a basic level has been started. It is mentioned that the classroom should be bright enough so that there is no obstacle to reading and writing. Similarly, there should be separate toilets for male and female students in the school.
In essence, the problem of teachers being irregular, not having regular classes, and being active under the influence of partisan politics but giving less attention to teaching and learning is a common problem in community schools. Due to this, community schools are finding it difficult to win the trust of parents. Poor performance in English subjects is also considered to have reduced the attraction of middle-class parents. Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person. What are the reasons for such schools to be strong and successful? What is the reason behind the empowerment of some good schools out of 29 thousand 741 schools with the same facilities, laws/rules? The study attempts to dig into this fact.