Monday, 19 February 2018

Homework Obsession

I still remember the painful days when my son was a primary school boy. We took him to Australia while he was studying in Grade 4. I had great expectations from Australia particularly in relation to my child’s education.  As a parent I wanted him to learn more. A problem began as soon as he started to go to school. With my experience of Bishrut’s schooling in Nepal I expected him to receive a substantial amount of homework. To my great disappointment he did not bring anything home from school and I did not know what he was learning there. I began to worry thinking that he would forget whatever he had learned in Nepal soon. I shared my fear with other Asian parents and they were also feeling the same.

I embarked to learn about Australian education system and my fear gradually turned into hope as I realised homework alone does not guarantee a student’s successful learning. With time I got an opportunity to engage deeply in the Australian primary language and literacy education system because I had decided to conduct my doctoral research in the same area.

Now I can relate my Australian story to typical Nepali parents who have brought their children to my school. In fact these children are only about to commence their schooling. The poor three year olds are struggling to cope with the entirely new environment of a school after being taken care by their parents in a comfortable home setting for a number of years. The school family is doing its best to help these little ones adjust to the different circumstances of school.

In contrast to children’s challenges parents have their own issue of homework. It has hardly been a week they have sent their children to school and they have already started complaining that they want the children to bring home homework. What they expect is their children must know Nepali and English alphabet and numbers as soon as they enter the school and do a lot of homework. Thank God I was not that demanding in Bishrut’s early years of schooling. At that point in time I wanted him to have less pressure and more pleasant experience from school.

I wonder why Asian parents are so obsessive about homework. They do not believe that their children are learning until and unless they see them reading schoolbooks and doing homework. This may be true for older children but the younger ones need a lot of other pre-reading and pre-writing activities before moving on to real reading and writing tasks.

I think the parents should also be given a couple of orientation programs when they come to school to admit their children. It is said that you like your children to follow the same path that you know; and the parents have come this far by reciting the alphabet and numbers during the early days of their schooling. Therefore, the first thing they want for their children is also the same. This vicious cycle must be broken and we must make parents realise that rote learning and mechanical homework doing are outdated techniques of teaching. Furthermore, they must be patient with their young children and give them enough time to adjust to school and start learning naturally and automatically.

(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 

[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]


Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Reasons To Respect

When I think about women’s role in building a prosperous society, I find it significant. Unfortunately, in the context of Nepal, women still struggle to be recognised. Traditionally they are defined as the “weaker sex” and they are normally dominated due to societal norms. Gender discrimination exists in different forms in all spheres of life. In addition, it can also be seen that it is women who relatively face more physical and social challenges than men to cope with life situations because of which they have to survive a lot of emotional upheavals.
For instance, during their teenage years, girls begin menstruating and thisleads to them having to cope with a lot of psychological and social pressure, particularly in the context of Nepal where menstrual bleeding is regarded impure and girls are ostracised during their period at least for four days.This is one aspect of gender discrimination because boys do not have this sort of restriction.
Another milestone comes into girls’ life when they get married. After marriage they need to quit a lifestyle they have been living so far and go to their husband’s house where they have to learn a completely new way of living. They encounter different circumstances to adjust to, different relationships to develop and maintain, and even different workloads which are very challenging.
Once they start coping with all sorts of changes pregnancy comes their way. It is entirely a woman’s share to carry and give birth to a child. Again it is she who needs to make adjustments. In her job list another job of child care and development will be added.The stage of menopause is also a very difficult stage in women’s life.It usually begins during late 30s and stays until late 50s. During this period women have to face various kinds of physical, psychological and emotional changes.
Even if women go through these challenges, they do not sit back feeling they are inferior to their male counterparts or they are weak. They know how to balance their life or manage emotional turmoils created by bodily hormones or social norms. Accepting these unavoidable realities they try each and everything to excel in the areas where they have abilities. As a result, there are many women in the world whose contribution is remarkable for the betterment of human kind.
So, why do we continue to consider women as being lesser than men? In fact, currently this stereotyped concept has been challenged by different sorts of research findings which justify women are not the weaker sex but the other way around.For example, women have longer life expectancy than men, they are better at multitasking and they can manage pain in a better way. A study says, “From longevity and surviving illness to coping with trauma and managing pain, we investigate the surprising ways in which women really are the stronger sex.”
Whatever situations come their way, women can handle them in a proper manner and move on. They deserve more respect and recognition in society instead of being discriminated with labels like “inferior or weaker sex,” “second class citizen” or “less intellectual people.”
(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, Jan. 26, 2017 
[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Educate The Girls

Although the African proverb, “If we educate a boy, we educate one person, if we educate a girl, we educate a family – and a whole nation,” sounds like a cliché, it is an ultimate reality. An educated pool of girls can make a huge impact in the development process of any nation.

This fact has been reflected in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number five which emphasizes “Gender Equality.” SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations to be achieved by 2030.

Since the Education for All (EFA, 2000 - 2015) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs, 2000 - 2015) were set forth a lot of improvements have been achieved in girls’ education. For instance, the enrollment rate of girls in primary as well as in secondary level education has increased, the number of girls outside of primary school has been significantly reduced and girls are, on average, completing more years of schooling. However, there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality.

The government of Nepal has taken several initiatives to encourage girls’ education at community schools, such as providing them with scholarships, implementation of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene ( WASH) programme and recruiting more female teachers. Yet, their participation in the education sector remains relatively low.  As a result, there is a dire lack of women particularly in leadership roles in almost every sphere of life. Well educated girls can bring unprecedented changes firstly in their lives, families, communities and nations.

Different reports show that children of educated women are less likely to suffer infant mortality; the women who are well informed about health care are less likely to die during pregnancy, childbirth or at the postpartum phase. The problem of child marriage is still acute in Nepal; to discourage this, first of all, the girls need to stand up for themselves and education helps them to do so. A research study reveals that on average, for every year a girl stays in school past fifth grade, her marriage is delayed by a year. Educated girls usually marry later, when they are better able to provide and care for their offspring. Such an aware bunch of girls can help control population growth as well because they prefer not to have many children for the welfare of their family. They will be capable of participating in politics or take up higher level decision-making roles. Most importantly, educated women have a greater chance to escape poverty by involving themselves in income generating work. This way, they can improve the standard of living for their children, families, communities and eventually their nations. 

We can say that without educating girls at the maximum level it is hard for a nation to prosper. Therefore, there should be more effective programs to bring all girls to school, to help them continue and complete schooling and encourage them to go for higher studies. Once they are able to take all the informed decisions related to their life independently we can say that the “girls’ education” mission is complete and this will contribute to the achievement of SDG 5 “Gender Equality.” Gene B. Sperling et. al. are right to say “No Nation can afford to NOT educate its girls” because investing in girls can give rise to unimaginable returns.

(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 
[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]