Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mission Plus Two

Students Race Against Time to Find Best College

Kathmandu/After the results of SLC Examination 2065 were declared on June 2, thousands of students are knocking the doors of different +2 colleges throughout the country. More than 250,000 students throughout the country are in search of the best +2 colleges in the country that can meet their aspirations. Plus Two colleges are expecting brisk business this year as the number of passed students is much higher than previous years. The Tribhuvan University's decision to phase out Proficiency Certificate Level from this year means that +2 colleges throughout the country will have a field day in this academic season.

Though history of +2 colleges in Nepal is only about a decade or so old, it has succeeded in creating waves among the students. In this last decade, the number of +2 colleges has significantly increased and it is expected to increase further in the coming years. According to Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB), there are 1,976 +2 colleges in the country. These are the destinations for fresh SLC graduates to pursue their higher education and meet their aspiration.

Teenage students, some accompanied by their guardians and some in groups, visiting different +2 colleges are a regular site in Kathmandu these days. In fact this is the time for the students to be extra careful. They should not follow only the advertisements while selecting +2 colleges. They should select effective educational institutions which has a proven record of shaping their future. Or else, the students will have to regret for the rest of their lives.

In fact, this is a crucial point for both the guardians and the students. If school education help develop the base, +2 level and higher education shape the students' future. Guardians need to support what their children want to study. They should not compel their children to study a particular subject. If a student does not have interest in that subject, he cannot excel in it. The result, his future will be in dark. The guardians need to counsel them, not compel their children. Most students are immature and they tend to err in selecting colleges. But the guardians should have to help the students in selecting a better college.

Why +2 Colleges?
Ever since its formation about a decade ago, +2 level education has been challenging the conventional and toothless Proficiency Certificate Level of the Tribhuvan University. Many students have been selecting +2 level as a stepping stone for their higher education because the courses offered by the HSEB in the +2 level are professional and job-oriented. HSEB offers professional courses in the likes of Mass Communication, Rural Development, Business Studies, Computer Science, Hotel Management, Travel and Tourism Management among others.

The introduction of such courses in the higher level immediately has been drawing students' attention. Apart from these professional courses, the HSEB also offers subjects like Science, Mathematics, Economics, English, Sociology, Philosophy and others. In other words, HSEB has been offering everything that the TU has been offering at the Proficiency Secondary Level. Attractive subjects along with results on time have been helping the craze of +2 education grow by leaps and bounds.

Apart from this, regular classes, conducive teaching environment, less impact of politics, quality of education, infrastructures, qualified teachers, counseling, personalized service are some of the factors which have been making +2 colleges a must sought after destinations for SLC graduates.

With the increment of students, the competition among +2 colleges is also increasing. They have been following the SLC toppers to enroll them at their colleges. This will give two benefits to them: on one hand, this will help the college improve its results and on the other, other students will also enroll at those colleges believing in the toppers' selection. Because of this fact, the +2 colleges have already started advertisement campaigns using the photographs of the toppers.

Such advertisements have been making their impacts too. See the case of Arpita Rana (16) from Dhading. This scribe met Arpita at the Kathmandu Model College where she was about to admit. Arpita said she selected the college after knowing about it from newspapers. "I also know about the performance of this college in the HSEB examinations," she added.

Arpita is among thousands of students who have been trying to select the best education institutions to shape their future and help materialise their dream.

The pressure of students in increasing not only are the expensive +2 colleges in the capital, even colleges outside the valley and other remote areas are facing the increasing number of students this year. The phase out of PCL from this academic year has further helped increase the students flow in +2 colleges in rural areas. Since the TU is not accepting application for the PLC level from this year, +2 colleges and a handful of 'A' level colleges have become the mission for the SLC graduates.

Increasing Confusion

Some days ago, this scribe came across Rajesh Rai, a proud father of a daughter who passed the SLC examination with distinction, at the premises of Xavier College. "I have visited several +2 colleges in the valley to admit my daughter. I don't think my daughter can excel in Science faculty. But I don't like her to study Management. I am really confused. That is why I am making rounds of +2 colleges along with my daughter," Rai shared with this scribe. Rajesh is among hundreds of parents who have been trying to select the best college for their children.
Confusion could be clearly seen on the face of Sonu Maharjan, whose bag was full with the prospectus of different +2 colleges, when this scribe met her. "I visited NIC, Kathmandu Model and St Xavier's colleges. But none of them could convince me," she added. Sonu plans to visit some more colleges before selecting one to pursue her higher education.
Suresh Gurung of Pokhara echoed Sonu. He is appearing in entrance examination of White House, Golden Gate, Don Bosco and Model College because he has not been able to select one. Though Suresh wants to study science, he is worried whether or not he will excel in Science faculty.
Swikriti Thapa of Biratnagar is also in Kathmandu to select a +2 college. "There are so many colleges here. I am really confused, which one to select. I am also confused about the subjects that they offer. I have not been able to decide which subject to study," she added

Attractive advertisements of +2 colleges have really confused the fresh SLC graduates and guardians. But experts suggest the guardians and students not to go after advertisements and select the colleges which have proven result. "It is true that advertisements, publicity and friends' suggestions have further put the students in confusion. I request them to be careful in selecting the colleges," education expert Bidya Nath Koirala suggested.

Apart from advertisement campaigns, the colleges have also started organizing interactions and seminars to counsel students. But such career forums are still to make major impacts on students and guardians.

Though such forums may prove to be handy for student and guardians in urban areas, students in rural areas have no option. As a matter of fact, neither the students nor the colleges in rural areas are becoming successful. There is a big gap between the colleges in urban and real areas. Colleges in rural areas are inferior to colleges in urban areas not only in terms of available infrastructures. They are far behind the colleges in urban areas in terms of capable teachers, teaching materials, laboratories, reference materials and other aspects.

After the phase out of the PCL level, the government, particularly the HSEB, has the responsibility of making +2 education more affordable and effective for students throughout the country. It should take utmost care in enhancing the quality of education at +2 colleges in remote areas. It should organise skill enhancement training for teachers at +2 colleges in rural areas and help equip the colleges with necessary infrastructure. Or else, the gap between the students at urban and rural areas will further widen.

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