PABSON to ensure consensus among educationists considering progressive education a priority

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When did you realize the need for your association with PABSON and what inspired you to join it?

I have had a great privilege to have been born to the parents who were respected for their noble teaching profession. This zeal and vigor to contribute to the educational sector started initially by seeing my family. My grandfather was a social reformer who established a Ganga School in Birtamodh, Jhapa in 2034 B.S. when private schools were very few even in Kathmandu. I grew up with the school environment watching all the developments of the school, thus I have been pretty familiar with the school system since my early age. After my advent to Kathmandu for higher studies, I happened to teach in private schools and was updated with PABSON activities and its contributions to upscale the private educational sector. When I started Radiant Readers Academy in 2056 B.S. I took PABSON membership and worked closely with them. In 2057 B.S. I was selected as the convention representative of Central PABSON, which as a golden opportunity for me to learn more about PABSON that sparked realization about the need of this organization to articulate the voices of private educational institutions.

Your embarked on the journey to PABSON in 2056 BS, and recently, you have been elected the national President of PABSON. You had a clear road map and were planning to execute it after your appointment as the President of PABSON. Could you please tell us how long have you had this roadmap and what are included in it?

Indeed, I presented a clear road map amongst my colleagues and the media on pretext of the 15th National Convention. As a co-chair, I demonstrated my performance and on the basis of that with the cooperation and support from my colleagues, I have been elected the National President of PABSON. I am confident to achieve the success that we have collectively dreamt for. I have plans for nation building through educational reforms. Private institutions are neither well realized by policymakers nor by the owners themselves. Some of the problems arose because of less managerial skills prevalent in school owners. Thus, we need to have a long-term roadmap to sustain PABSON. I have two priorities at the moment: first to negotiate with the government for addressing the issues of private educational institutions and the other is to lead PABSON in the right track by letting the schools provide state-of-the-art facilities and periodic teachers’ training as teachers are the pivot for quality enhancement. My road maps for sustainable progress of PABSON can be listed as follows:

• Making private friendly education and ensuring an amicable environment for investment from both national and global investors • Connecting internationally acclaimed pedagogies with digital system • Making all member schools truly institutional and developing their infrastructures

• Bringing all the private schools under the PABSON directives • Ensuring capacity and quality enhancement of all the schools— private and government-funded

• Establishing the system of parent-orientation before the enrollment of their ward(s) which is in practice in many countries in the world.

• Developing connectivity of Nepalese education with international level and organizing group study exchange programs including media, government representatives, parents and founders between national and international organizations

• Making education system free from corporal punishment

The 15th National Convention of PABSON has unanimously elected me the President. In fact, a president has the steering role in materializing the plan. So, I am fully committed to implementing it. In my perception, there are so many problems in the education sector. Some problems are policy related and some are concerned with appealing stewardship. The PABSON is committed to lobbying with the government to solve these problems assuring the security of private investment in education and preparing private friendly environment. On the other hand, the PABSON has been working on strengthening the institutional capability and quality enhancement. The newly elected executive committee has been working to systematize the teaching and learning activities in line with global practices and for that we have set a mission. We are not thinking about academic sector as a means of livelihood for our generation rather we think of its sustainability and thriving for generation to generation. Hence, PABSON has been working in two strata: policy related level and internal institutional development level.

The present constitution has provisioned the three-pillar policy for economic sustainability. What educational laws are needed to materialize this constitutional provision? In fact, the private education sector has an invaluable contribution to the delivery of quality education and preparation of qualified human resources in the country. Still, the perspective of government does not have clear and positive outlook towards the private education sector. The government has been adopting discriminatory, intolerable and suppressive policy for private educational institutions. The state is still lacking farsighted education policy and the assurance of security of investment due to which private investors are not motivated to promote their schools and colleges. In fact, private educational institutions got an opportunity to expand and flourish their services and business when Nepali Congress led government after 2046 BS adopted privatization in Nepal. However, subsequent governments have been found less concerned about the essence of privatization. A recent report released by Nepal Rastra Bank shows private education sector’s contribution to national GDP is 8.83% which is the 4th position among other GDP contributing sectors. So, in our analysis, the government should understand the spirit of the constitution and should change the perspective to look at the private education sector. If the government understands the contribution of private education sector and adopts the private friendly education policy, we can make Nepal an education hub even for international students. The favorable and pleasant atmosphere, the climatic conditions and scenic geography attract people of any country to Nepal. So, there is high possibility of developing Nepal as an education hub to the students of the world, particularly of south Asia. Moreover, the government should prepare amicable polices that would acknowledge the contribution of private institutions and encourage myriads of private investors. In our view, the government should formulate laws that regulate and monitor the schools and colleges with certain autonomy rather than unnecessary controlling. The local government Act has delivered autonomy to school level education; however, we have experienced the direct control of federal government yet. We, private education sector investors, have capability to provide medical education in Nepal, and we can hold the capital drain to foreign lands in the name of medical study and higher studies. We want to work in partnership in development but we are alleged as Mafias. Due to the reason, billions of Nepalese funds are superfluously being drained out. On the contrary, If the government adopts encouraging policy and creates the environment to invest in medical education sector, the state will be able to generate the income, employment, and get the required resources for overall development of the nation. Similarly, the private sector will maintain their social corporate responsibility which will consequently help in uplifting the status of the people and the nation. Most developed countries ensure private sector investment gains enough capital, which holds their economy tight. The sooner we realize the investment in private educational sector is a boon, the better it is for the country, people and economy. So, the state should adopt liberal and private friendly education policy.

Different political parties have different perspectives of education, and these perspectives change as one government ousts another. In such a situation, as the national President of PABSON, how would you convince the private school investors?

Private schools have proven that their role is significant in the development of education in Nepal. So, for their long-term existence, we should bring the broader concept and pattern of institutional investment. It is the urgent need of innovation and creativity in education to produce globally competitive human resources. So, the member schools of PABSON themselves should develop their institutional capability and enhance quality. The PABSON is always ready to cooperate with them. In the same line, the PABSON is always creating pressure to bring sustainable and private friendly education policy as well education Act. I assure all the member schools that the PABSON is fully accountable for strong guardianship to all private institutions across the country.

The trend of youths heading towards foreign lands in the name of higher education has dramatically changed. What will be the impact of such an exodus on socio-economic sector of Nepal? In your view, what should be done to stop the Nepalese youths from going to foreign swathes?

An exodus of Nepalese youths in the name of foreign education is one of the perils for the nation. In the past, a huge capital was drained out for quality education; however, due to the contribution of private schools to delivering quality education in school level, the flying youths’ number has decreased to 20 thousand whereas trend was more than hundreds of thousands of students at the time of insurgency. But the number of career hopefuls going to foreign swathes for medical education has dramatically increased as a result of irresponsible bureaucrats.

It is obvious that the state alone cannot invest in medical and technical education. So, the state should be positive towards extending cooperation with the private sector. The reliable data show that about 35 % of total remittance that enters Nepal is drained out from the country in the name of medical education. So, unless the government realizes that outflow of such a huge amount ruins the national economy, thinking about the nation’s prosperity is just a hoax.

Thousands of youths are leaving the country with huge capital flying. If we are able to hold the amount, we can establish hundreds of medical colleges in Nepal and create job opportunities to thousands of skilled human resources. But the policy making level government officials and the political parties have not contemplated it as a serious issue. In spite of controlling the alarming state of youths going to overseas country, the government has encouraged them by adopting an open-door policy for foreign study. The government has controlled private sector investors from establishing medical colleges in Nepal but has granted foreign university to conduct orientation program in Nepal to attract Nepalese youths for foreign study. So, until the government, bureaucrats and political parties don’t change their mindset against the discriminatory policies, the problem will loom over every sector that will result in economic derailment.

It is assumed that students will get quality education in foreign countries. To what extent have private schools been successful in winning the trust of leaners in Nepal?

We are fully capable of delivering international standard quality education in Nepal, but the government should make the trustworthy environment for the assurance of our investment security. Private sectors have invested around six hundred billion capitals in education sector, but they are threatened by the government repeatedly. The government, instead of encouraging the private education sector investors, has discouraged them by imposing restraints on them. Should the government bring private friendly educational policies and encourage investors, we will selflessly invest for socioeconomic and academic transformations.

The government has recently proclaimed that Saturdays and Sundays are considered weekend from the first week of Jestha. Did the government take any suggestions from the PABSON as the stakeholder before making such a crucial decision?

What is the feedback of the PABSON on this decision? We are the stakeholders, but the government has not sought any suggestions from us. In spite of this, the PABSON has welcomed the decision of the government. We have embraced it as beneficial to students for their refreshment. We had conducted research among the youngsters on the effectiveness of such a holiday and received the positive feedback. From one aspect, it is a good routine to follow as it enables us to prepare for the entire week on Sundays, work from Mondays to Friday and take rest on Saturdays, but in the context of Nepal, there are more than enough holidays and the country may not bear the expenses of being shut for two days in a week. In this regard, the government should consider curtailing the holidays which are connected with religion, culture and history but celebrating them in schools and colleges on weekdays.

Although a huge budget has been allocated for teacher training by the government, most teachers of private institutions are deprived of getting this privilege. What is your forthcoming plan to address this issue?

In fact, teachers are the principal engine of school running software. We know that the well-recognized schools and academic institutions of the world have given the priority to their teachers’ capacity development. So, we have planned for various phases of teacher training; however, the school leaders and principals will be trained before this. Everyone wants change but no one wants to initiate the change from within. Therefore, we are trying to bring change by working for the betterment of schools, teachers and administrators so that education will be better as a whole. We have developed a plan to bring transformation in the mindset of leaders through training, followed by teacher training and institution development. The upcoming decade will surely witness the advent of visionary and trained leaders as teachers, which is the sign of a reformed education system. Most private schools focus on infrastructural development rather than developing teachers’ teaching mindset with training and personal development workshops. If this trend continues, we will fail to enhance academic excellence. We are fully aware of the fact that only appealing physical infrastructure cannot ensure quality education and quality education can be delivered by qualified and trained teachers.

Initially, HISSAN and PABSON were seen working in their own separate organizational structures and demarcation. But after a couple of years, a kind of confusion, conflict and interference started looming between them. As the national President of PABSON, how would you resolve it?

The PABSON, the N-PABSON and the HISSAN are three active organizations working for the betterment of private institutions in Nepal. The PABSON surpasses the other organizations in terms of raising the genuine voices of private education sector and lobbying with the government for favorable policy. Before the advent of HISSAN, most HISSAN members already were a part of PABSON. We have been even collaborating with the HISSAN since 10+2 was brought under school level education. When HISSAN modified its legislation and included Grades Nine and Ten into its jurisdiction, PABSON also claimed that the program from Grades 10-12 should be under its capacity. It is a simple effect of an immature decision of HISSAN which has been exaggerated complicatedly by academicians. In my perspectives, the HISSAN should work for university education and encourage students to pursue higher education in Nepal after ten-plus-two. Is the HISSAN following its working principle? However, there is no rancor between the HISSAN and the PABSON, but we respect each other for our efforts and vision. The PABSON will fully support HISSAN with all the means if it becomes accountable for the university education. Also, we suggest that schools and colleges should not take multiple memberships: either be a part of HISSAN or PABSON or N-PABSON.

What are the bases that make a student proud of studying in a PABSON associate school?

What assurance can you give to prospective parents and students? We are now planning to offer membership of PABSON only to such schools which have maintained minimum pre-requisites of quality education. In the same line academic, physical, human resources and management are the responsibility of schools whereas the school code of conduct is to be followed and maintained by parents. We are intending to move ahead by ensuring the positive mindset of school principals in the changed academic paradigm. We assure the students that they will get quality education from PABSON member schools.

You have focused on progressive education and claimed that the number of students has gradually increased in progressive schools. Has the PABSON given priority to sustainable progressive education?

Progressive education is a pedagogy that focuses on studentcentric teaching and learning approach. It was practiced in Europe more than 150 years back, but we now are just discussing it in Nepal. It is inevitable to impart education by adopting ‘Learning by doing’ approach. In my school, I have prepared all the basic requisites to move ahead with progressive way of education with some strategic plan for its manifestation.

The 21st century skills are considered consolidating education into knowledge, skills, culture and technology for the holistic development of students. Do you think that PABSON member schools have executed it in a real sense?

When we were students, we were taught that knowledge is power, but with the change of time its definition has changed vastly. Knowledge, skills, culture and technology are interlinked which should be consolidated into our academic endeavors and are basic skills in the 21st century. Moreover, one should possess knowledge of his/her profession which should be underpinned by certain skills, which we normally transfer to students and ensure they are independent learners. Undoubtedly, technological knowledge has become another inevitable aspect of the 21st century education, which we realized after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s high time we change our classroom teaching and learning environment to produce educated, knowledgeable and skilled human resources for a conducive future of the nation.

Finally, what are your suggestions for the PABSON member schools?

First, we should change our mindset when we are in pursuit of such a change in others. Schools should also come in alignment to technological and practical-based education so that their existence can remain intact. No one wants to compromise on health and education; thus, education providers should deliver the best of their ability to education seekers in order to witness a sustainable future of such learners and the nation. Assurance of quality in education should always be our priority

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