Quality of Education: Public & Private Schools

By – Smarika Pandey

Education in Nepal has progressed well since last century as there was a time when only an elite group of people had access to education. However, today most Nepalese have access to formal education. Nevertheless, the quality of education which they receive varies in accordance with the social and economic class they belong to.

Most children from lower economic status attend public schools which are notoriously known for providing low quality education compared to their private counterparts. From 2016 to 2021, the average grade over all schools in Secondary Education Examination (SEE) was 2.48 GPA. Out of the total students , 87% of the students who went to the private schools passed with the grades A +/A but only 28% of the students in public schools secured A/A+.

 Research conducted by British educationist Richard Thompson showed that 10 % of the students in grade 4 from public schools do not know the Nepali alphabet, 25% of them can’t recognize double-digit numbers. The research also showed that almost 50% of students from public schools do not attend school regularly (only 52.8% attend), whereas the attendance rate at private schools is 84%.

Despite going to schools, children from poor families cannot uplift themselves from poverty because they do not get quality education. Many of these children leave the village to find work in Kathmandu, India or the Gulf. They are more likely to be victims of child labour, overseas labour and even human trafficking. Not getting quality education is also one of the reasons why children who went to public schools get engaged in blue-collar work such as hard manual labor, manufacturing, construction, mining, etc. 

Given this circumstance, it is high time that the government of Nepal should be taking some innovative steps regarding improving the quality of education in public schools. There are many practices around the world on how the government finances education. One of such practices is the education voucher system which countries like Sweden have been successfully practicing for a couple of decades now. 

The school voucher system in Sweden is admissible to all institutions that provide primary and secondary level education. It enables the citizens to choose among municipal and independent schools in the community for the quality of basic level education. This has ensured equal opportunity to all the students, encouraging inclusive basic level education. Moreover, this has compelled public schools to perform better as they now face fierce competition. Either they must provide better quality education or bear the risk of students leaving for other schools with better quality education. 

If the government of Nepal brings the policy of voucher system in education, it might bring a good improvement in the education system. The education voucher system will not only weigh down the burden of providing education from the government, it will also increase the efficiency and accountability of the educational institutions. There would be less barriers for children to attend school of their choice. Moreover, with more efficient use of resources, the cost of public education will decrease, attendance rates will increase, and most importantly competition will pressurize public schools to perform better which eventually will lead to improvement in the quality of education across all schools.