Evolving Roles of ICT in Nepal’s Education Sector
Education is one of the most important aspects of human beings that drives human skills, art, and creativity. Without education, human values and ethics do not come along. But since last March 2020, the physical classes have been completely closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As an alternative ICT (Information Communication Technology) came along creating an opportunity for online education that flourished around the world. An immediate shift from regular physical classes to online classes was a big jump for both teachers as well as students but there was no other alternative. Due to this the demand for internet users as well as mobile penetration has increased. The digital divide has been accruing since then as many students could not afford expensive mobile, television, and laptops of their own. From the government level, many policies related to ICT and different actions have been playing from the local level regarding ICT development. Technology has taken more control over our lives now as mobility is strictly prohibited. During this pandemic time, new policies related to ICT and different technological support have been taken to make sure that the flow of the teaching and learning process is not disturbed.
Education has become one of the prime challenges for a developing nation like Nepal where poverty and bad governance are the crucial aspects that are keeping people away from education. Looking into the history of Nepal’s education system at the beginning from religious education in Temples, trusts, and monasteries literacy was started. Nepal did not have its education policy until 1939. At the beginning of modern education itself, the Rana regime kept restrictions on education access in the education ordinance of 1939 manifested Rana policy made Nepalese people fall further behind in educating their citizens. In 1939 School Leaving Certificate (SLC) was recognized but still, the whole examination was conducted and controlled by Patna University in India which was slowly controlled by Nepal till 1947. From 1951 to 1971 Liberal Policy of the government expanded access to education which brought a greater number of attendances in the education sector opening education for the general public. Focusing on School education in 1952 the Ministry of education was established. In 1954 National Education Planning Commission (NEC) was formed that reviewed the education situation and gave the suggestion to the government for the first time for financing in the education sector. This supporting information from the National Education Committee expanded access to education in 1961. The help of the United Nations’ technical cooperation for human resources and physical development for primary education by adopting the policy of partnership between government and the communities brought many changes in the education sector. The policy of School-based management was running during 1960.
In the area of education policy in Nepal, the congress government in 1959 adopted the policy to expand primary education by establishing one primary school in each election booth which supported more area coverage of schooling. By 1990 National Education System Plan (NESP) was formed but it lacked in addressing the nationalization of the education system. As soon as the Panchayat system prevailed NESP ended and in 1992 National Education Commission was appointed which gave a correction to the previous education policy. In 1998 a high-level education commission was formed and by 2008 the expansion of private education started booming around the country.
Nepal’s first education development plan was made in 1956 that focused on primary education and in 1971 National Education System Plan (NESP) was initiated that looked into school curriculum along with vocational education. From 1970 to 1990 the whole education system focused on giving equal access to education for both males and females and focusing on disadvantaged communities were the major target group. As it consisted of education for rural development (Seti Project) from1981 to 1991, primary education project from 1 983 to 1992, primary education development project from 1992 to 1998, basic and primary education project Part I and II from 1994 to 2004, and finally from 2004 to 2009 education for all program was started. So, we can see that expansion and maintaining access to education was the major focus area. Later in 1990, the Millennium Development Goals stated a global world target of education for all by 2015. (Consultants, 2009)
ICT (Information Communication Technology )
The term ICT is also used to refer to the convergence of audiovisual and telephone networks with computer networks through a single line system. There are expensive financial motivating forces to combine the phone arranger with the computer organize framework employing a single bound together framework of cabling, flag dissemination, and administration. Tools of communication like radio, TV, cell phones, computer and organized equipment, video conferencing, and remote learning. ICT implies the utilization of computer-based innovation and the Web to form data and communication administrations accessible to a wide range of users. (Tomar, 2021)
According to UNESCO, “Diverse set of technology tools and resources used to transmit, store, create, share or exchange information. These technological tools and resources include computers, the Internet (websites, blogs, and emails), live broadcasting technologies (radio, television, and webcasting), recording broadcasting technologies (podcasting, audio, and video players and storage devices), and telephony (fixed or mobile, satellite, Visio/video-conferencing, etc.) ” (UNESCO, n.d.)
To study the different provisions of ICT in the education of Nepal
1. To find out the different policies made under ICT learning till now and its progress
2. To find out about Government action during the covid-19 pandemic in the area of ICT development in the education sector
The study followed a qualitative research design where means of secondary data from different research papers as well as newspaper articles had been taken to bring out different analyses from this research paper. The study area was specifically focused on Nepal as well as it has tried to compare with south Asian Countries and has brought different results from these authentic sources. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation, physically taking raw data was not possible so with the help of secondary data the following research took place. One of the metropolitan cities “Lalitpur” was taken for a detailed interview to get to know more about the grown reality of Nepal.
ICT Policy Review
1st to 7th Plan of Nepal and its focused areas
From 1956 to 1990 the plans of Nepal in the area of education particularly focused on maintaining the quality of a school by funding a particular budget in the area of school staff, suppliers, services, and administration. With the increase in budget in a different year of planning. It also focused on power decentralization by giving authority to the district and preferred more local government schools. Provision of free education from 1 to 3 grade in all public schools. Also incorporated free education but did not play a good role. Another major objective was to increase access to school and this encouraged the private sector to open and operate the school and Early Childhood Education Development (ECED) centers. This also gave importance to female teachers to attract more female students to attend the school. Mainly poor and diligent students were focused on scholarship provision.
ICT and 15th Plan of Nepal
Curriculum-based on the development of human resources, infrastructure and technology, and life skills mainly digital learning materials will be developed to assist the teaching and learning process for English, Maths, Science, and technical subject. It also addresses ensuring life-long learning by connecting learned knowledge and skills with income-generating programs through informal education and alternative learning of electronic-library services at the local level.
In the area of the social sector in education, the 15th Plan mentions education and its technology-based learning where it says that the provision will be made for mobile programs on skills development and training to ensure the prescribed quality of technical and vocational education are focused. More technical stream education will be conducted in every community school. Innovative technology will be included in schools and university curricula as appropriate to utilize innovative technology.
ICT development In Education Policy of Nepal
Policy development from 1951 to 1990 there are some the areas where technical education and vocational training have been mentioned including non-formal education, distance education, and open learning as a starting phase for ICT development in the education policy of Nepal can be seen.
According to Master Plan 2013-17 in the part of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Education policy it says,
ICT Policy 2010 states access to the Internet to all schools, national and international skilled human resources, promotion of Industry-Academia collaboration IT programmers focusing on students, teachers, and schools.
The School Sector Reform Plan (SSRP) states that ” ICT assisted teaching/learning will be implemented and expanded in all schools”. Alternative modes of schooling, distance learning by the Ministry of Education (MOE) is to develop learning support materials to enhance the quality of education through the use of ICT.
According to the three-year plan 2011-2013 of the government of Nepal policy related to ICT in Education: schools will be encouraged to use ICT in education to increase access to quality education in rural areas, the digital divide will be reduced and ICT will be integrated with all aspects of education.
Guiding Principles in developing a master plan,
1. The first principle should be ICT for all students, meaning that the policy would act as an enabler to reduce the digital gap.
2. The second principle should emphasize the role and function of ICT in education as a teaching and learning tool that would also encourage the utilization of all potential media and Technology.
3. The third principle is to promote educational access and equity for all regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, or location.
4. The fourth principle is to emphasize the use of ICT to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the management system in education. ICT will extensively be used to automatize and mechanize work processes such as the processing of official forms, timetable generation, management of information systems, lesson planning, financial management, and the maintenance of inventories.
According to this principle, there was action taken on the field on the part of skilled manpower development, and here are the key results and targets,
|S. N||Target till 2017||Achievement|
|1.||218 Trainers Trained||290 Trained till 2015|
|2.||Teachers Trained for ICT||20,000 teachers trained till 2017|
|3.||Interactive Digital Content for students.||All grades developed a total of 70 subject’s content till 2017|
Regarding different programs and activities, many committees are being formed like the functional National committee and coordination committee was formed in 2017.
· One E-government in the education sector was established in 2017.
So, looking at the master plan target and its achievement it shows really good progress till 2017. (MOE, 2013)
In-School sector Development Plan (2016/17 to 2022/23) by the ministry of education 2016 has shown the ensure equitable access to quality education for all that implies. Here ICT objective and improvement strategy and online course and material development and online self-learning method are mentioned that show more emphasis on remote learning strategy had been worked from the beginning itself.
The National Education system plan from 1971-76 by the ministry of education frames out a plan prepared/commanded by his majesty King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev. The provision of other educational materials like science and the vocational subject is better comprehended if films, firm-strips, and slides are used. Many other ways like education through radio and a basic requirement for school teachers training and teachers qualification are looked under. The education act 2028 (1971) also mentions opening school process, qualifications, mobile schools may be operated in remote mountain regions.
Digital Nepal framework 2019 is one of the latest events conducted in the area of Nepal’s ICT development programs. Open learning exchange (OLE) Nepal was established in 2007 which is one of the integrated technologies in classrooms. E-Paath includes more than 600 learning models for teachers. Her teacher’s training included 600 plus teachers trained in IT literacy. Technology infrastructure consisting of 5000 laptops in 100 schools was developed. Promoted digital inclusion and the smart classroom that was the focal agency of MOEST and supported agency by MOCIT (Ministry of Communication and information technology, MOF (Ministry of Finance), NDCL (Nepal Doorsanchar Company Limited). OLE Nepal in public schools focused, online learning platform in mostly rural and fewer facility people. Rent a laptop program, EMIS 2.0 (Education Management Information System) Mandatory for all public schools that integrate education management information system, as well as biometric attendance systems and CCTV comers including mobile learning centers in rural areas, are some of the ICT projects that had been in the planning phase.
ICT background of Nepal
ICT was never a priority before but providing equal opportunity for education for all was the main challenge. Due to not much implication of information communication technology used in Nepal, physical education was given more priority. Along with the changing scenario, the Covid-19 pandemic brought the necessity of online education where now technology is playing a huge role in the process of taking the quality of education forward. Due to this change, Nepal’s technological use has increased drastically. According to the 2019 Digital Nepal Framework, it shows that mobile penetration exceeded 100 percent whereas internet penetration reached 63 percent which shows great progress from 2012 which had only 62 percent and 21 percent respectively. Here the government of Nepal also says that it is taking initiating steps to expand internet connectivity as part of its vision of a digital society that connects 90 percent of the population to broad services by 2020. In the area of optical fiber cable coverage, 75 different locations in 45 districts are available (Telecome, 2021). Access to radio and digital television has reached 87 percent and 72 percent respectively according to the economic survey 2077-78 (Finace, 2020).
|2.||Mobile Penetration||100 + %|
|3.||Optical Fiber Cable||45 District|
Nepal in comparison with South Asian Countries in the area of ICT Development
Digital innovation in a developing country like Nepal has always been a huge challenge but every pandemic situation brings opportunity and this time it was digital innovation in education due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Looking into the 2016 data of the ICT Development Index (IDI Index) it shows that the Maldives was first ranked in the Reginal IDI of south Asia in 2016, whereas Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan respectively ( Latif, et al., 2018). 2017 data from IDI shows the updated data where in the world ranking again the Maldives stand first with 85th ranked with 54.73 percentage among South Asian Countries where Nepal with 140th world rank with only 15 percent that has internet access. So, we can see the backwardness in the area of ICT (ICTdata, 2017).
Looking into internet penetration in mobile phones from 2014 to 2018 we can see the improvement of Bhutan with 33 percent, Bangladesh with 22 percent, Nepal with 33 percent, and Pakistan with 23 percent. On the other hand, we can see a huge increase in mobile internet perpetration in Nepal among other South Asian countries which shows good progress in the long run (GSMA, 2019) Overall, the increasing trend of Nepal in the area of ICT still lags in comparison to all the other countries of South Asia. But looking at the rate of increase in mobile as well as internet access it has given a good startup signal in the area of digital transformation in Nepal soon.
The covid-19 pandemic has become one of the worst crises hit around the world that not only affects human health but largely in the education sector. The immediate shift from physical education to online education was a hedge jump for a developing country like Nepal. As physical education was the prime process of teaching and learning. But with such a shift during the pandemic time, there was no other option. Depending upon ICT as a medium to connect with the students and having technological understanding was the main struggle for the teacher as well as for the students (Karki, 2020). To overcome this problem many strategies were used to connect the gap between the student and the teacher from the government side. The process of using radio, television, computer, and internet services was made for the schools that were facing problems to adjust new technology (Government, 2020). In Nepali university students who were involved in online education started having health-related problems and found online education not so effective were 55.6 percent of the teacher said that the classes were not so interactive whereas 41 percent of the students felt that the online classes were not effective (Dangal & Maharjan, 2021). With a long lockdown physically teaching and learning activities were completely shut down and to reopen school the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) came up with a framework for reopening school based on the suggestions received from the province and local levels by reviewing the situation of Covid-19 pandemic at local and school levels (Ministry of Education, 2020). Going back to the lockdown again with the rise of the second wave giving more concern, especially for school-age children with no vaccine extended online classes. With this concern, the government started a process to obtain six million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for under 12 children according to the Ministry of Health and Population (Republica, 2021). Along with the pandemic situation the students facing more problems in online education itself, with economic stress, parents not educated, internet access, fear of loss of the academic year as well as uncertainty in conducting physical classes and on top of that mental physical and social pressure on students (Dhungana, 2021). The digital divide in education started growing rise, especially for the students who are marginalized, students with disability, and low-income has detached from online education (Ojha, 2020). As the majority of the schools and students do not have access to a computer but government proposed online teaching which has created more gaps in education. To minimize such pressure on students during this pandemic Human Right Commission of Nepal had requested the Ministry of Education and private schools not to pressurize the students in the name of online education (Ghimire, 2020).
The shift from physical to online gave more pressure on parents, teachers, and educational institutions to continue the teaching and learning process. Parents balancing household work and jobs with their children’s online education gave more added role of guardians to educate their children. Due to this many parents lost their job squeezing the economic status that decrease to afford education. This is just the situation in the urban area, but the guardian of the rural area is much more challenging. In comparison to private schools, public schools are more technically backward and still need more support is needed to build technical knowledge. Looking into the data there is only 12 percent of public schools out of 30,000 have the information communication technology (ICT) delivery capability, with 30 percent having access to a computer and only 1 percent of public-school teachers can run online classes according to the Economic Survey of 2019-2020 (MOF, 2019-20). So, we can see from the data itself how the situation had been with the immediate shift from physical education to online.
Name: Mahandra Bahadur Chettri
Post: Sichya Mahasakha Pramukh
Work Experience: High School Teacher for 3 years, After Lok sawa: worked in Education Monitoring Post (Sakha Adhikrit), worked in a different district like Baglung, Baitadi( Jila Sachiv), Kailali in (Upa Sachiv Post), Education Board (Upa Sachiv), District Education (Upa Sichaya Adhikari in Lalitpur Metropolitan City Office) and Now working in Local Level Sichya Mahasakha Pramukh of Lalitpur.
Discussion and Recommendation
● From Children’s development, pre-primary to class 12 school management responsibility is given to the local government. (Schools management: Teacher’s Salary, Appointment, Transfer, Holiday, estimation of the students) from School’s permission to primary to 11, 12-grade approval comes under our jurisdiction.
● Education Procedure is made that has made education composition: Social Committee, Education committee (We discuss and make a decision mainly School education)
● Before +2 different schools are different and now till +2 school. (Overall Management work is looked after us)
● Support from LMC during this pandemic time: Computer lab establishment, ICT for long-term use has become more priority, ICT Knowledge more focused.
● Last year a specific budget of Rs.12,000/- came from the Federal government along with internet services and the local government provided a subsidy to all the community schools and even this year at the rate of Rs 12,000/- subsidy was given to both school and +2 students. Before the subsidy was given to the only high school and from this year, they have provided it to all the basic schools. On top of the in addition for alternative online learning classes where for adhar bhut: Rs.15000/- and Mavi 25,000/- subsidy is given to all the community schools to implement the policy that they have made.
● Result of the policy: Firstly, they have touched almost all the areas, access to education for all people especially for females, Dalit, differently able people, free textbooks
● Due to the Covid-19 situation, some of the policies could not be that effective like the part of a monitoring mechanism for all the schools which was not at all possible.
● Evaluation of these 14 policies: In a general aspect, all are a success but, in some parts, it is an only partial success like, Snack’s provision to school but the school did not open so this action also was not implemented, Sanitary pad distribution which also was not possible to give.
● Firstly, needs were identified, Economic support from the Federal government and some from the Local government got little support. But in the area of alternative learning, they could not be addressed properly due to students having no access to online classes, and teachers having no skills in conducting online classes due to a lack of Budget. So, for this, they even gave some basic training to the teachers of public schools so that they can at least conduct classes from a mobile or any other device.
The local government not being able to work effectively in the area of ICT development with a lack of budget during the pandemic time. As a lesson learned we need more investment in ICT development and proper facilities for ICT-related training for both teachers as well as for the students is the most important priority for any kind of pandemic situation that may come in the future.
Most rural areas of Nepal are still deprived of proper technology as well as not aware of the importance of ICT policy. Sankhuwabha is one of them that still lacks trained teachers as well as skilled human resources as a major barrier to ICT in education policy. Not only this it has brought a big question on its proper monitoring and evaluation of schools regarding ICT development from the government working mechanism. More awareness in the rural areas gives more concern according to Avinash Jha ( Jha,2021).
The education sector needs immediate attention due to the Covid-19 pandemic and if we don’t bring changes in our teaching and learning process through online education the future of education quality will surely decrease leading to less enrollment rate of students. It’s been almost 2 years of a continuous shutdown of schools and as an alternative (ICT) Information Communication Technology played a huge role to fulfill this gap. But challenges remain uncertain as all of a sudden change from physical to online has created many disparities. Lack of technical knowledge, lack of preparedness, and no proper online course design has made online courses more challenging for students. In the part of evaluating students through the examination process, we can see lots of confusion in deciding on how to take the examination for SEE, 11, and 12 classes. This has shown the dependency of the government on physical examination only and does not want to go for online examination as an alternative due to this pandemic situation. Using only one evaluation system for students is not at all good; it has to be improvised according to the situation.
Maximum use of technology due to this pandemic I would say has allowed us to do more things from technology. Not just studying from books but also studying from videos, online documents and different knowledge around the world can be our opportunity. But if we assume that if there were no Covid-19 pandemic then we would have never understood the importance of online classes. But now we can see the whole world is moving with online education with the help of ICT. This has boosted Nepal’s technological users’ knowledge and increased a greater number of mobile phones as well as internet penetration in Nepal. Even in comparison with South Asian countries, Nepal is slowly improving much better than other countries.
To look into a practical example of how local government bodies are working I took an interview with Mr. Mahadra Bahadur Chettri working as a Sichya Mahasakha Prakukh in Lalitpur Metropolitan City. He has shared lots of information regarding ICT development in public schools and how they have been managing the current problem with different teaching-learning activities with the help of radio, small group teaching, documents, and giving monetary funds for internet access for all the public schools in Lalitpur. Looking at all the policies for this year and for the upcoming year they have planned different ICT-related development projects and more funding is allocated for ICT development in the education sector. Local government bodies play a major role in the context of finding alternative education processes to education plays a major role.
In regards to different policies of Nepal related to ICT development in education, we can see lots of provisions since 1951. Distance learning and the use of technology training given to school staff were the basic approaches taken along with Master 2013-17 mentions different provisions of online education. But despite all those policies as well, planning while implementing during this pandemic time became a huge challenge for most of the school teachers as well as for the students. With the lessons learned and learning from our past now, we need proper planning regarding ICT for everyone and proper facilities are required for online oriented teaching-learning training for teachers with a proper evaluation system so that the flow of education is never disturbed even though there any short or pandemic situation.
For a Quick-fix solution looking at the current situation supporting those students who are most vulnerable in the context of differently able or low economic status proper access to required reading materials should be provided. So that there is no case of digital divide seen in any area and for this, every school must keep the record of such students so that they can get immediate support so that the teaching and learning flow is not disturbed.
Secondly, preparing a separate syllabus during online classes as a backup so that the evaluation of the students can be determined accordingly and not in the same way as it used to in normal physical classes.
Establishing one technical team in each school that will be leading the teachers as well as students on online teaching and learning session. This will help in awareness regarding the importance of ICT development at the school level.
As we saw the mobile penetration rate of more than 100 percent we should also focus on mobile teaching and learning session packages as an alternative during the pandemic situation. This will help students as well as teachers’ continuity in the teaching and learning process. In some areas with no network as an alternative, required materials distribution should be managed by the local government itself.
As we saw in the pandemic the role of local government working efficiently so proper support and training related to ICT development is required so that if any such pandemic occurs local bodies are well prepared for anything.
For a strategically long-term goal, the federal government itself should come into action for an ICT policies development for every school determining the requirements of internet services specification and proper budget allocation and distribution among all the local governments. Looking into the geographical area each Local government has its situation and requirements which are best for them. So, understanding the need and investing in specific ICT requirements would bring the best result.
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