Government adamant new curriculum will be introduced in grade 11 this year
With the academic year truncated, private school operators, who are planning to start classes after Tihar, say that this is not the time to put additional burden on students.
Despite private school operators’ reluctance to adopt new sets of curriculum for grades 11 and 12 in the new academic year planned to start after Tihar in November, the government is adamant on implementing them.
“Let there be no confusion, the new curriculum for grade 11 will come into effect from this year,” said Minister of Education Giriraj Mani Pokharel on Tuesday.
The new curriculum has been four years in the making since the eighth amendment to the Education Act in 2016 restructured school education with grade 1 to 8 categorised as basic education and grades 9 to 12 as the secondary education.
“The new curriculum was needed to integrate grades 9 to 12 because the existing curriculum for grades 11 and 12 is different to 9 and 10,” said Ganesh Bhattarai, director at the Curriculum Development Centre.
Schools have been shut since March when the country went into lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus. But most of the private schools have started admitting students for grade 11 while some have already started a foundation course online with a view to start full-fledged classes after the festive season of Dashain and Tihar is over.
The operators of the private schools say it would be wrong to enforce the new curriculum at the time of crisis.
“We stand against the government’s decision,” said Yubraj Sharma, a senior vice-chair of the Higher Institutions and Secondary Schools’ Association, an association of the private schools providing grade 11 and 12 education.
With Minister Pokharel saying on Tuesday that the academic year will not be extended beyond mid-April, there will just be five months of classes.
“This is time to reduce the load to the students. However, the new curriculum envisions increasing the burden,” said Sharma, who is also the chairperson of Himalayan Whitehouse International College.
According to the new curriculum, students will have to study six subjects each in grades 11 and 12 instead of the present five. Three of these are compulsory — English, Nepali and Social Studies in grade 11 and Life Skills Education in grade 12— and while three are electives which students choose on the basis of what they plan to study in college.
There are 80 elective subjects divided into four groups.
The new curriculum, according to the Curriculum Development Centre, has been designed to switch to the single-track curriculum for grades 11 and 12 from a system of four disciplines in place so far and students after grade 10 Secondary Education Examination chose one of them —Science, Management, Humanities or Education.
They had been studying the five subjects for each discipline.
In order to make high school education integrated from grade 9 to 12, the Ministry of Education had decided to replace the previous curriculum with the new one in January.
“It has been over eight months since the government made the decision and made the new curriculum public,” Bhattarai of the Curriculum Development Centre told the Post. “The decision wasn’t made abruptly now. There was ample time for preparation for everyone.”
But private school operators are not convinced.
“We have urged the ministry to halt the plan for this year and implement it next year after broad discussions with the concerned parties,” Sharma told the Post.
The dispute between the government and the private schools’ operators has come out when thousands of students are preparing for their enrollment in grade 11.
The National Examination Board on August 17 published the results of the Secondary Education Examinations based on the mark ledger provided by schools after their internal evaluation. Of the 482,986 who had registered for the examination, the examination controller’s office had received marks of 472,078 students from their respective schools. Of these, 450,000 are eligible to join grade 11, according to the National Examination Board.
“It is the duty of every school to follow the government’s decision that was made after a long preparation,” said Bhattarai. “Private schools’ operators should stop giving negative statements against the new curriculum because that will only confuse the students.”
Students are, indeed, in a state of confusion what exactly they will be studying when they begin grade 11 classes.
Samundra Poudel, an SEE graduate from Narayani Model School in Chitwan, says he is aware that the government has announced implementing the new curriculum from this year but hopes that the plan will be postponed as there will be less time to complete the syllabus.
“Our classes haven't begun yet and our college hasn’t told us when it will start,” he said. “I think the new course will increase the burden. However, we have no option but to study the new course if the government decides to do so.”