100. ENG 101 ENGLISH I


I have never seen, both as a student and as a teacher, such an impressively misguided course which somehow resembles our country, our government, our educational system, our everything at the moment.

On one hand you have this book Adventures in English (one of the most widely used English books in Bachelors level) which contains short stories, poems, essays on themes of ancient tales, anthropology, education and on the other hand you have a book titled Business Result which has been essentially designed for in-service professionals looking to improve their basic communication skills in English. So you have core literature which requires critical and analytic thinking on a fairly intellectual level and elementary business English which requires school level grammar and texts but focuses on non-student context.

Both books look awesome on their own but so do elephants and hippopotamus. The horror is they are merged into a single course and look like elephantomatus – an awkward ugly beast which stinks so much that one can doubt if the Pokhara University people were thinking straight.

I read the Adventures in English when I was in Bachelors – many many years ago. I had really enjoyed reading the book. I was happily surprised to see the book once again when Pokhara University revised its BBA program. And really, I enjoyed using this book in the class this semester. But I don’t see the rationale behind merging another book in the same course. If they think that both books are essential, they can simply keep them in different semesters or as different subjects. That’s quite easy. And that’s practical for teachers and students. I can’t forget my students’ face with the most epic WTF expression when I showed them the sample question provided by PU.

I don’t really get the course designer’s point but I want to end this rant by quoting a line from Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s poem ‘The Illiterate’ from the book Adventures in English.

The myopia to the race!

99. Does the government care about education at all?

I am not surprised by the government’s recent announcement* that it has proposed a ten-year plan to run classes in English medium in all community schools. It says it wants to improve the quality of school-level education. Good job! I am not even surprised that the government has finally made public its desire to “increase attraction towards community schools”, which is absolutely wonderful. I am just a little bit surprised by its broader educational vision that equates ‘instruction in English language’ with ‘providing quality education’.

The proposal, according to the Ministry of Education, has been developed to bridge the gap between private and government schools, however it is quite clear that the government assumes “English as the medium of instruction” in private schools as the sole reason for that gap. And there’s a greater predicament for the government teachers. The ministry wants all the existing teachers “to undergo a test to see whether they can teach in English medium or not, otherwise they will get a choice of retirement along with some incentives”. Again, the assumption; to provide quality education, teachers must be able to teach in English. Everyone already knows the quality of government school English language teachers is very unsatisfactory and now the government wants other subject teachers to teach using English language. This is absurdity on a new level.

It obviously shows that Nepal’s government lacks a solid understanding of what quality education really means. (Hello ministers, hello policy makers.) And at the same time, it has apparently given in to the pressure created seen and unseen forces (globalization, standardization, donor agencies, success of private schools, people’s belief about English language, technology, internet, and so on).

I think the government should completely stop comparing the state run schools with the private schools and just focus on how to make education more accessible, practical and useful to the general people. Most importantly, the government should believe in itself and expand that belief into the public. Unfortunately, we see almost all government employees (from the ministers to the peons) send their children to private schools. Bitter truth: no one really trusts what the government plans and does, not even the same government employees who draft the plans.

I am not claiming that private schools are not money-grabbing opportunists (they are registered as private limited companies for dog’s sakes) but simply blaming the private schools for government’s failure is just a pathetic excuse. If the government wants to implement English medium in public schools, it should do it not because it feels threatened by the private schools but because it believes that by doing so the quality standards of education improves.

Or may be, just may be, the government just doesn’t want to improve the quality. Because once it does, the foreign money would stop coming in. Education is very political, just to quote critical thinkers. The government will thus let private schools create social inequality and at the same time it will play passive, act dumb, point fingers and blame others.

* Link to the news: