This number means that 339,000 children will not have the same life opportunities as other children. 339,000 will not see the face of college. 339,000 will not have the same choices or the power to determine their future as they may otherwise have had. In 2015, 67% of students from the public school system failed their School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examinations.
In 2005, about 1.4 million students enrolled in grade 1. After 10 years only about 400,000 appeared in the SLC in 2015. Less than 200,000 graduated. This means that over about a million children never made it to grade 10 and 1.2 million failed to graduate from secondary school system in Nepal.
Two-thirds of all children in Nepal attend public schools, and every year a significant majority of these students fail to graduate from secondary school. If 100 children enroll in grade one, only 30% of them stay in school. About 70% children drop out of the school system. Over 90% of students who fail the SLC fail in Maths, English, or Science. At grade four, 25% of students cannot count double digit numbers.
(The graph below illustrates percentage of students successfully passing the SLC examination in public versus private schools.)
These numbers are neither inevitable nor intractable. There are several reasons why our public education is failing. Teach for Nepal focuses on two primary problems:
Most public schools are under-resourced and struggle to both get and retain teachers. In schools where the government has not allocated enough teachers, or in remote areas where teachers do not want to live, primary school teachers have to teach secondary level students. As a result, teachers are overburdened and the education of students appearing for the SLC is being compromised by teachers who are not qualified to adequately prepare them to excel in the board examination.
Our social and cultural orientation is such that the best and the brightest Nepali minds are discouraged from pursuing teaching as a career. Those who do extremely well in the SLC are expected to choose a career in science, technology, or business. The teaching profession, especially in the primary and secondary levels at public schools, is often viewed as a last choice, if one at all. This contributes to the significant existing gaps in knowledge and capacity available at public schools.
To address the immediate need for education equity in Nepal, and to bring long term systemic change, Teach for Nepal believes that we need a sustained social movement of individuals who are committed to ensuring that all children in Nepal receive quality education. To this end, Teach for Nepal will recruit outstanding university graduates and young professionals from all fields. Selected applicants, our "Fellows", will receive training and support in transformational teaching to make an immediate impact in the classroom. As alumni, they will lead various initiatives to bring about systemic change in the long term.
Teach for Nepal will recruit Fellows in Nepal and among Nepalis abroad to teach in high-need public schools for two years. Teach for Nepal will primarily recruit individuals with the knowledge and skills to teach Math, English, and Science. They will receive intensive training in transformational teaching. Teach for Nepal will also provide resources and support to enable them to have an immediate impact in their classrooms. Through dedication, hard work, and passion Fellows will help their students make measurable academic achievement during their tenure.
During their two years of teaching, Fellows will gain deeper insights into the problems of educational inequality in Nepal. They will develop an understanding of the challenges that students, schools, and communities face in high-need areas. Their experience and success in the classroom will help them develop a conviction that pervasive inequalities can be eradicated. Their experiences in classrooms will help the Fellows develop confidence and commitment, which will guide them towards innovating solutions and to becoming further committed to engage in the long term.
Teach for Nepal will build an alumni network that works inside and outside the education system to bring fundamental transformation. Moved by the experience of the classrooms and with the conviction of the insights they have gained as teachers, former Fellows will become advocates and organizers, policy makers and entrepreneurs, political and social leaders, educationist and administrators – leaders in different sectors – with one vision: to end inequity in education and bring quality education to all children in Nepal.