Education System in America

7 08 2012

The American education system is unlike that in many other countries. Education is primarily the responsibility of state and local government, and so there is little standardization in the curriculum, for example. The individual states have great control over what is taught in their schools and over the requirements that a student must meet, and they are also responsible for the funding of schooling. Therefore, there is huge variation regarding courses, subjects, and other activities – it always depends on where the school is located. Still, there are some common points, as e.g. the division of the education system into three levels: elementary/primary education, secondary education, and postsecondary/higher education (college or university).Formal schooling lasts 12 years, until around age 18. Compulsory schooling, though, ends by age 16 in most states; the remaining states require students to attend school until they are 17 or 18. All children in the United States have access to free public schools. Private schools (religious and non-sectarian) are available, but students must pay tuition to attend them.
Structure
U.S. educators frequently use the terms K-12 education, and sometimes PK-12 education, to refer to all primary and secondary education from pre-school prior to the first year or grade through secondary graduation. One of the following three patterns usually prevails in the community:
• Elementary school (K-5), middle school (6-8), high school (9-12);
• Elementary school (K-6), junior high school (7-9), senior high school (9-12); or
• Elementary school (K-8), high school (9-12).
 The majority of U.S. children begin their educations prior to entering regular school. Parents who send their children to pre-schools/nursery schools (age 2-4) and kindergartens (age 5-6) have to finance these institutions privately. Children learn the alphabet, colors, and other elementary basics.
 U.S. children enter formal schooling around age 6. The first pattern (see above) is the most common one. Elementary students are typically in one classroom with the same teacher most of the day.
 After elementary school, students proceed to middle school, where they usually move from class to class each period, with a new teacher and a new mixture of students in every class. Students can select from a wide range of academic classes and elective classes.
 In high school, students in their first year are called freshman, in their second year sophomore, in their third year junior, and in their last and fourth year senior.
There is an even greater variety of subjects than before. Students must earn a certain number of credits (which they get for a successfully completed course) in order to graduate and be awarded with a High School Diploma – there is no final examination like in many other countries.

Education System in Nepal
Hence, until the recent past, Nepal followed the traditional three-tier sixteen-year education system, allocating ten years to school education, four years to college level studies – two years each for intermediate and bachelor program, and two to the Masters program at the university.
Education in Nepal from the primary school to the university level has been modeled from the very inception on the Indian system, which is in turn the legacy of the old British Raj. Hence, until the recent past, Nepal followed the traditional three-tier sixteen-year education system, allocating ten years to school education, four years to college level studies – two years each for intermediate and bachelor program, and two to the Masters program at the university.

During the 1950s and in the subsequent decades, Nepali students started facing comparative disadvantage in their academic and professional career advancement not to mention in the regional or international fields even in their home country. Therefore, in order to make the nepali education system more competitive and compatible, policy and structural changes were made and gradually implemented, although for the lack of funds and resources only at a snail’s speed during the last three five year plan periods. As a result, the present education system although still in the transition phase, stands as follows:

(i) Pre-School Education
The pre-school learning, be it kindergarten, Montessori or any other form of pre-school education, does not yet form an integral part of the formal school education system. Nevertheless, the need for such facility is being increasingly felt by the society. And, a number of pre-school establishments have come into existence in response to the demand particularly among the affluent, the educated and the working parents in the urban areas. These facilities range from simple day-care centers operated by semi skilled tutors and ayahs to sophisticated but informal playgroups run by trained teachers and nurses, and from formal pro-primary schools managed as junior wings of large school set-ups to advanced westernized kindergarten and Montessori pre-school establishments. Very different in their fees and infrastructure, they profess equally diverse professional objectives and educational goals, and practice divergent approaches to early education. His Majesty’s Government of Nepal has recently formulated some guidelines for pre-primary curricula.

(ii) School Education
(a) Primary Level
(b) Middle School/Lower Secondary Level (S.L.C.)
(c) High School/ Secondary Level
(d) 10+2/ Higher Secondary Level

Formal school education in Nepal officially spans a period of 12 years, at the successful completion of which a student graduates with a certificate of Higher Secondary Education (10+2). However, since the majority of the schools in the country have not been upgraded for the lack of funds and resources to the 10+2 level, the old high school system with School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination at the end of 10 year still persists. Most of them are public schools funded by the government. However, they have not been able to reach and maintain the expected educational quality standards, nor have they been able to address the needs of the society. If the lack of adequate funds and resources is partly to be blamed, the lack of accountability and too much of politicization in the educational administration from the bottom to the top most hierarchy have had a crippling effect or the educational system. The S.L.C. examination results of the public schools, which have been getting bad to worse over the years, bear witness to this fact. Not surprisingly at all, in spite of tin provision of free education up to primary level and free distribution of books to girl-children and children of socially discriminated ethnic groups up to lower secondary level, parents prefer to send their children to comparatively more expensive private schools right from the beginning.

The private schools in general have better facilities, are better managed and have been showing a much better performance in the S.L.C. examinations. However, the quality standards of the private schools, too, are not consistent and vary considerably from school to school. There are, on the one hand ‘A’ class private school establishments managed and run by charity organizations, companies, trusts or? visionary individuals, and on the other, the so called private English boarding schools operated by business minded people in semi-furnished residential houses or even factory-like tin-shades, which are in fact nothing more than teaching-shops. They do, nevertheless, seem to be catering to the taste and the need of the different sections of the society. In addition, the capital also has a British and an American School, which, although initially started for the children of the foreign diplomats, have opened their doors to Nepali children, too.

In the recent years, some public schools have upgraded themselves to the 10+2 level will governmental support, and in the urban and semi-urban areas a number of private 10+2 institution; have sprung up without any lower school base. This sorry state of transition to 10+2 level has forced the universities to continue their intermediate or proficiency certificate level program! for the time being, at least until 2005 according to the latest revised phase-out schedule. Hence,| present, the 10+2 level school education in Nepal is being administered parallely and independent by the university as its intermediate program and as a higher secondary school education program by the Higher Education Board of the Ministry of Education, HMG/Nepal. Meanwhile, the S.L.C Examination continues to remain as the iron-gate to be crossed for an entry into either of the above programs.

The SLC Examination System.
The SLC thus being the gate way to higher education commands full attention of all concerned-students and their parents, teachers and their institutions. The students are virtually groomed for the S.L.C. from s VIII onwards. They are taught the actual S.L.C. courses in class IX and X and are required to pass the qualifying examination, popularly called Sent-up Test, at the end of class X to be eligible to appear in the C. examination. The S.L.C. requires the students to take three-hour written examination of 100 marks in each subject for the entire syllabus covered in two years of class IX and X.

The evaluation scheme follows the traditional marking system with division ratings as follows:
35%and above to below45% – Pass with 3nd division.
45% and above to below 60% – Pass with 2nd division.
60% and above to below 75% – Pass with 1st division.
75% and above – Pass with distinction.

The S.L.C., however, as the policy makers claim, is now a matter of only a few years because after the full, nation-wide implementation of the 10+2 system, the present S.L.C. examination will be replaced by a or regional level class X examination. The Higher Secondary Education Board only will t national level 10+2 annual examinations to certify students of having completed their secondary school education or what is popularly called school education in the west.

Level Class/Grade Duration Pupil’s Age Certifying exams Core Subjects
Primary I to V 5 Yrs 5(+)-10(+) District level primary school examination at the end of class V Nepali, English, Math, Social Studies, Science
Middle/Lower Secondary VI to VIII 3 Yrs. 10(+) -13(+) Dist. level lower secondary exam at the end of class VII Nepali, English, Math. Social Studies, Science, Health and Environment
High School/ Secondary IX&X 2Yrs. 13(+)-15(+) School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exam at the end of class X Nepali, English. Math, Social Studies, Science, Health and Environment
Higher Secondary 10+2 XI to XII 2Yrs. 15(+)-17(+) HSEB exams at the end of both XI and XII English. Nepali and 3 Core subjects of the chosen stream.

(iii) Higher Education
(a) Bachelor’s/Undergraduate Level
(b) Master’s Level/Graduate/Degree Level
(c) Post Graduate, M. Phil. Level
(d) Ph.D. Doctoral Level

Higher education in Nepal, like elsewhere in the world, is the sole responsibility of and administered by universities and institutions of higher learning. At present, the country has six universities; five of these – two public (state), two again public (community) and one private – offer western model academic program and technical education while the remaining one, again a public university, is dedicated to the study of Sanskrit and related subjects. There are two more universities in the offing-an international Buddhist university at Lumbini and another a general university with concentration on BuddhisH at Banepa. But since they have not yet received the character, they can be classified only as proposed universities.

Entry into the public institutions of higher learning, except to the technical programs such as medicine, engineering, forestry and agriculture, remained and still remains to a considerable extent almost unrestricted. This has created a tremendous pressure on institutions, draining their physical and human resources and leading, in turn, to a progressive deterioration in the quality of education they impart. As a result, during the last decade of the last century, the government has granted affiliation to a number of private i.e, proprietary colleges and many of them are now fully operational. They offer their programs with the same curricula, but being smaller in size and restrictive in enrolment, they are better equipped and better facilitated. However, such colleges are comparatively very expensive and are almost beyond the reach of the common people. Similar is the case with the only private university of the country as its programs, too, are accessible only to the family well-off.

The following table* presents a glimpse of the overall infrastructure framework of higher education in Nepal.

Institute Estd Date Type Number of Campus Major Field of study Degrees offered
Tribhuvan University 1959 Public (State) Residential cum Affiliating 61 own
institutes + 191 affiliated campuses Humanities and Social Sciences, Management, Education,
Health and Medicine, Agriculture and Animal Science, Forestry, Engineering, Law and Science & Technology Intermediate Bachelor’s Master’s M. Phil. Ph.D.
Kathmandu University 1991 Private (UGC grants)
residential cum Affiliating Central Campus + 8 Affiliated Campuses Management, Science, Arts, Education, Engineering and Medical Sciences. Intermediate Bachelor’s Master’s M. Phil. Ph. D.**
Purbanchal
University 1995 Public
(Community and UGC grants) Residential cum Affiliating 2 Univ.
Campuses + 72 affiliated campuses Sciences Technology, Management, Humanities, Law and Education Bachelor’s Master’s M. Phil.** Ph. D.**
Pokhara University 1995 Public
(Community and UGC grants) Residential cum Affiliating Central
Campus + 29 Affiliated Campuses Management, Science & Technology, and Humanities & Social Science Bachelor’s Master’s M. Phil. Ph. D.**
Mahendra
Sanskrit
University 1986 Public (states) Residential cum Affiliating Central
Campus +13 Affiliated Campuses Sanskrit, Ayurved and Related subjects Intermediate Bachelor’s Master’s Ph. D.
B,P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences 1991 Public (state and donor grants’) Residential Central Campus Medicine and Health Sciences Diploma Bachelor’s Master’s Doctoral

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