DR. BABURAM POKHAREL, founder principle of V. S. Niketan Higher Secondary School and College, has a long experience in the education sector. Established in 1981 by Pokharel, V.S Niketan has made a steady progress in the last 30 years and established itself as a leading private sector education institution dedicated to impart quality and affordable education to all. From pre-primary level up to the graduate, there are all levels of education under V.S. Niketan roof. At a time when the results of School Leaving Certificate are going to be published anytime in the near future, founder principle Pokharel spoke to New Spotlight about various issues of higher secondary education. Excerpts:
As results of SLC will be published soon and more than 300,000 students are coming to join higher secondary education, what challenges and opportunities do you see before the students?
As you said, the examination results of SLC will be announced soon and out of 465000 students, a large number of students who will pass the SLC exams will come to search for good schools and colleges. Now the students have to enter higher secondary school. Unlike in the past, the choice of an overwhelming number of students is now +2 rather than TU affiliated colleges. Before introduction of Higher Secondary Education in Nepal, a large number of students used to go to foreign countries to pursue the +2 because of uncertainty in the examination system in TU affiliated colleges. Frankly speaking, the introduction of +2 education drastically reduced the number of students going abroad. Higher Secondary Board has established itself as a credible body to announce results and routines in time. This education system is also at par with international standards. This matches the 21st century education system. One of the major highlights of this education is that it provides peaceful atmosphere to the students. Guardians and students are now looking forward to choose good schools of higher secondary education.
Although Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) is said to be autonomous and independent, the reality is different. There is frequent political intervention in the HSEB and it is yet to build its own institutional capability. Due to this, there appear problems in curriculum and examination. Whatever the situation may be, we don’t have any other alternative than to strengthen the Higher Secondary Education Board as it is going to be the part of school education now.
Despite many ups and downs, you have been involved in higher education sector for many years now. What are your experiences?
Initially, the idea was proposed in 1990 to make Nepal’s school education at par with South Asian countries. It took a year to change the mind of parents and students that +2 educations was a part of higher secondary education and the quality of education was good. We motivated parents in early days convincing them, that this +2 is a good education. I am proud to say that higher secondary education proves that it imparts quality education and education with nominal politics. There were just 39 schools when we introduced it and now there are 2611 higher secondary education institutions in the country. Actually, the spirit of the act is to offer up to higher education in remote parts of the village where people can benefit from the education. This also encourages the girls to receive education at their door step by upgrading the local government schools as community schools. However, the sector has commercialized and the involvement of private sector has gone up. Nobody has supported +2 education including government and University Grant Commission. There was no project for +2. Because of low priority of government, the private sector stepped in, now this is, trapped in. It is now concentrated in the urban areas bringing unhealthy education. Instead of the person involved in education sector, we can see the investment of other groups also.
What about the V.S Niketan?
Started with 147 students and 7 teachers in 1981, the school has made a lot of progress. From pre-primary to high school and colleges, I am proud to say that we are able to secure over 98 percentage successes. Nepal government awarded excellent school of the year. We are now running BBA and our BBA program is like a hot cake. Banks are offering placement for our students even before completion of their course. Our program is with the job guarantee. Thanks to the support of parents and students, we are able to establish ourselves as a good school.
What is the fee structure?
Our fee structure is cheaper and affordable to the middle class family. Our results of all the levels are always good. We are able to convince the parents. Our students are getting scholarships in engineering colleges, medical colleges. More than 200 students have already secured medical degree and more than 350 engineering.V.S Niketan has already produced 22 batches of SLC, 15 batches of +2 and 5 batches of bachelors. My students are leading 12 branches of school. In all sectors, you can see our students. We have produced good students. We have discipline. There are more than 5000 students studying in various levels including 3000 at school level, 1200 at +2 and 500 at bachelors level. We have healthy atmosphere and good environment. Ours is a most disciplined school as we have our own infrastructures. I am serving the nation.
What are the challenges for future?
Politicization is a major problem. The time has come to delink politics from education. Over politicization is badly affecting our education system. Our school was shut down in the beginning of the academic session. All the political parties need to issue commitments that they will not interfere in education and it must be made a peace zone. Political parties must issue the commitment. We must stop the flow of students going abroad for study after +2. We must prepare the plan to attract the students going abroad. We are losing our manpower. We need to produce the manpower as per the need of the country. There is the need to create a proper atmosphere and a healthy atmosphere. The higher secondary board should allow more schools in rural parts of Nepal. Affiliation should not be given to the education institutions without infrastructure.
Do you provide scholarships?
We are also providing scholarships for students of various groups. We provide scholarships to the students of Martyrs, Dalits, poor communities as well as the students with excellence.