Community schools: Who cares!


BHOJPUR, May 21: All three sons of Raj Kumar Rai in Bhojpur district study at nearby Katunje Secondary School. The eldest is a 10th grader while the other two are in grades nine and four.
Raj Kumar´s eldest son is preparing for this year´s school leaving certificate (SLC) examinations, but the local of Dhodlekhani VDC-3 have never once turned up at the school to ask how he is doing. Raj Bahadur Darji of the same village shows similar unconcern. Though he does sometimes visit the school where his children are also studying, he never asks the teachers about their academic performance. Rai and Darji are typical of those who send their children to community schools in the district, hardly ever interested in meeting with the teachers and learning about their children´s studies. This is a school which has had nil passes in the SLC examinations for the last two years. But none of the stakeholders seems to care. Gopal Thapa, principal of the school, admits that the teachers are equally responsible for the poor performance of the students. And the parents´ failure to exert any pressure to improve things has only made matters worse.“We are no less responsible for this situation,” Thapa said. “We need to draw their attention to the school and strive to improve the studies. However, if the parents had taken a greater interest, the teachers also would not be able to shirk their duties.”
Lack of parental concern over their children´s studies is a problem not just at Katunje Secondary. Almost all the schools in the district have been facing a similar situation.
Last year, 16 students passed the SLC at Sagarmatha Higher Secondary School in the southern part of the district. According to the teachers, the parents hardly visit the school to learn about how their children are doing. Behind the declining quality of education in community schools is lack of parental concern and supervision, according to Rewati Parajuli, section officer at District Education Office (DEO), Bhojpur. “Due to lack of parental concern, teachers are encouraged to do as they please,” said Parajuli. “The only remedy is, the parents should take the issue seriously,” he added.Similarly, Parshuram Tiwari, civil society coordinator in Bhojpur, also alleged that failure by parents to keep an eye on the schools has affected their children´s future. Whenever students are absent from school, teachers do not report this to the parents. In private schools, the parents are duly informed when any student is absence. As with the parents, DEO officials have also not shown any interest in inspecting the schools, according to stakeholders. If they do carry out any monitoring, it is only as a formality. There are 283 primary, 57 lower secondary, 41 secondary and 20 higher secondary-level community schools in Bhojpur district. Twelve of the schools had nil results in last year´s SLC.

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