Welcome to EMI Special Issue: August 2015

On the occasion of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples today, the Choutari team recognizes the importance of both local and global linguistic diversity and rich languages/language practices and cultural heritage knowledge of the indigenous people all over the world as a resource for building an equitable world in 21st century through quality education.

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The spread of English as a global language has created numerous issues concerning educational policies and practices. Pushed particularly by the the ideology of “global  market economy”, English is taken-for-granted  as the language of education in developing countries. While the teaching of English as a language has already been a big challenge in ESL/EFL contexts, there is an increased push of English as the medium of instruction (EMI) policy from the early grades in Nepal. While the English language is certainly an important language in this globalizing world, it is not true that imposing English-only  medium of instruction ensures a better education that prepares students for job market (which is becoming more multilingual and multicultural) nor is it justifiable that EMI promotes equity and access in education.

A famous linguist and scholar, David Crystal (2002) argues that the spread of English language has already created unprecedented “threat to many minority languages” all over the world. In Nepal, we have a mosaic of linguistic diversity which can be an important source of education. But EMI is pushed without considering any academic and language learning theories/studies. As they are facing a big pressure to increase student numbers, community/ public schools wrongly assume that the EMI policy will help them out to retain the students.

The EMI policy to lure parents to stop children from going to private schools is a perilous and an extremely reductionist view about education which lacks both academic and pedagogical justifications. The medium of instruction policy is one of the most important aspects of education as it is directly related to academic and cognitive development of children; to language and culture of society; and the education system as a whole. Thus, the creation and implementation of any language policy should be rigorous, comprehensive, and grounded on educational theories and best practices that embrace local existential reality while showing critical awareness of global issues.

Another key aspect to consider while developing a language policy is social justice and equity.  Studies from all over the world have shown that allowing children to use their own home/community language as a primary language of education, while simultaneously learning second/foreign language, ensures greater student achievement. Further, the right to education in one’s own first language has been recognized as a fundamental right in all the global educational forums and policies that Nepal has already rectified and adopted its own policies.

In this backdrop, the government must be responsible to ensure its policies that are informed by educational practices and theories that support equitable and quality education for all children. We must be aware of the fact that  “market forces” do not entirely determine and represent larger social and educational needs of the nation and as market resources are always hierarchical, they are not accessible to all children.  Thus, we should first answer these questions: Do we really need EMI? When do we start EMI? What is the space of English in local linguistic diversity that shapes our educational practices? What should be the medium of assessment? Have we prepared teachers and created resources for EMI? What are the research-based foundations of EMI?

This August 2015 issue focuses on the above and other cross-cutting issues related to EMI policy in Nepal. We include case studies, pedagogical practices, and experts’ perspectives on EMI.

The first blog entry  by Mahendra Kathet, a teacher trainer, is a case study of community schools from the Mt. Everest region which have recently adopted EMI. In the second post, Ashok Raj Khati, a teacher training specialist working for REED Nepal, further investigates into the EMI practices based on case studies, observations, and theoretical aspects.

In the third post, Ishwor Kandel, a master trainer of NIITE (National Initiative to Improve Teaching in English) project, highlights the need of EMI in schools and focuses on professional development of teachers to materialize the policy effectively. He also shares the ongoing NIITE project and its contents.

The fourth post is an interview with Khagaraj Baral, Executive Director of NCED. Mr. Baral believes that needs and interests of citizens are primary in democracy and if they want EMI in their schools, it should be up to them. With reference to SLC results of few EMI schools, he argues that  EMI policy contributing to  better results.

Prem Phyak, a PhD scholar, University of Hawaii, US, and Lecturer at the Department of English Education, Central Campus, Tribhuvan University, in another interview, shares research-based findings and situates them in Nepal’s current EMI policies and practices. He argues that the issue is not whether we need EMI policy, rather it is the accessibility and quality in education through EMI in the multilingual societies like Nepal. He argues that there is a need for redefining and reimagining language teacher education (including ELT/TESOL) and professional development programs (including teacher training) from a multilingual perspective. He asserts that there should be intensive research studies and critical examination of the current policies and practices before making any language policy decision.

Likewise, Bal Krishna Sharma,a PhD scholar of the University of Hawaii, shares that in the context of Nepal, where English is taught as a foreign language, teaching in English-only does not benefit the majority of students. Based on his research, he argues that whether we allow or not, translanguaging is in practice in our classes and he further suggests using both English and home language of students systematically to produce effective teaching learning outcomes.

Similarly, in another post, Pramod Kumar Sah, a research scholar on EMI at the University of Central Lancashire, shares his views on the prospects and challenges of implementing EMI in the context of Nepal. He presents the cases from all around and argues that EMI in Nepal has been a haste and unplanned decision. He also proposes to allow multilingual practices such as ‘translanguaging’ and ‘plurilingualism’ in the bilingual and multilingual classes of Nepal.

Last but not the least, we have continued the photo photography project. For the project, Photojournalist Sunil Sharma, who is also working for Chinese News Agency called Xinhua, contributes the photos from the classes in the temporary learning centers that were built to support children who could not go to schools after the April 25 earthquake.

Here is the list of the blog posts for the August Issue of Choutari:

  1. EMI in community schools: A case from Mt. Everest region by Mahendra Kathet
  2. EMI in Nepal: A passport to a competitive world or a commodity to sell?, A Case Study by Ashok Raj Khati
  3. Project NIITE: Developing Better Teachers for Implementing EMI by Ishwor Kadel
  4. Parents have Rights to Choose Medium of Instruction: Executive Director of NCED, an interview
  5. Reimagining EMI from a multilingual perspective: Policies/Practices, Realities and Looking Forward, by Prem Phyak
  6. Why English-only ideology and practice, by Balkrishna Sharma
  7. English Medium Instruction (EMI) in Nepalese Education:Potential or Problem? by Pramod Kumar Sah
  8. The Photography Project: Education in Emergencies, by Sunil Sharma

We hope that the views, opinions, and experiences in this issue will help shape EMI policies and practices in Nepal. I extend my sincere gratitude to the entire Choutari team for their support. Similarly, I am thankful to all the contributors for their amazing ideas on EMI! Last but not the least special thanks goes to Praveen Kumar Yadav for his untiring technical support!

Hoping that you would enjoy reading the special issue!

Happy readings!

jeevan

Jeevan Karki, Editor, August Issue

Parents have rights to choose medium of instruction: Executive Director of NCED

Khagaraj Baral

Khagaraj Baral, Executive Director, NCED

National Centre for Educational Development (NCED) has been running National Initiative to Improve Teaching in English (NIITE) Project. For this special issue dedicated to EMI, Choutari editor Jeevan Karki has spoken to Khagraj Baral, Executive Director of NCED on EMI practice in Nepal. Here is the excerpt: 

What kind of project is it? And, why was the necessity of it felt? Could you please explain?

NIITE is a project to support our regular teachers’ professional development programmes. English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) was already in practice in our community schools before launching NIITE, whereas, it was launched two years back. There is a provision of conducting teachers’ training based on the needs of teachers in the School Sector Reform Plan (SSRP). The need of the most of teachers from community schools was skills to teach through EMI. It was because of the decrease in number of students in community schools in towns, would-be towns and district headquarters and the reason behind the shift of students to private boarding schools was the choice for EMI education. The next factor was the interest of parents to educate their children through EMI. Considering both the reasons, the School Management Committee (SMC) and teachers started working on teaching and learning through EMI. Then, we designed the training programmes as per the demand of teachers to get trained for delivering EMI based lessons. There is no pressure for schools to shift for EMI. Schools are free to use Nepali, English or both according to education act (2010), regulations and curriculum.

How many community schools are teaching through EMI and how many teachers are trained for EMI?

During last Fiscal Year, 7,500 teachers were trained from NCED. The training was provided to the teachers who were teaching subjects other than Nepali and English. Some schools are also managing the trainings on their own. The community schools from Daunne to Gaidakot in Nawalparasi district have conducted trainings with their own initiative. The schools that want to start EMI are not going to wait only for our support, instead our support seems to have been late than their initiation. Some schools have even recruited teachers for teaching through EMI in self-funding.

According to language policy, schools can use Nepali, English or both as a medium of instruction. Based on the policy, schools are adopting EMI even without qualified teachers and minimum resources. What kind of outcome this may bring in future? Doesn’t the government have to ensure the fulfillment of minimum requirements before implementing EMI?

Schools have adopted the medium of instruction as per the existing language policy. Are there qualified teachers and sufficient resources in the schools that use Nepali as a medium of instruction? If it is yes, there is also not satisfactory results. The medium of instruction does not solely improve the result. However, it has been observed that the results of the schools which have adopted EMI have been improving slowly. The result may not be satisfactory for few years but it will improve thereafter.

The SLC result of 2013/14 has shown that the schools that produced encouraging results were found to be adopting EMI, take an example of Kanti and Kalika schools of Butwal, Shanti school of Manigram. Similarly, schools of Biratnagar, Pokhara, Surkhet, Kathmandu, Bhaktpur, Lalitpur, Damak, and Hetauda have proved the same level of results. Why don’t you analyse the result of the community schools after adopting EMI in last ten years?

A lot of issues and controversies have been raised internationally in terms of shifting the medium of instruction (MoI). In order to systematize it, different countries have clearly set guidelines on age/level to start EMI, subjects to teach through EMI and so on. For instance, there is a provision of introducing EMI from the third year of primary level in China. What are the guidelines of teaching through EMI in Nepal?

The medium of instruction is determined by socio-economic, political and linguistic factors of the country and it is led by politics. As the politics is also based on democracy, the need and interest of people is strong. If there was an autocratic rule, only one language would have been recognized. If parents want to educate their children through EMI, the theories and principles of language become secondary. They lay-men do not care about the principles of language teaching. They want their children to get quality education of international standard. Secondly, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the authority is vested in the parents to choose the kind of education for their children. Talking about the case of China, although Chinese is the largest language in the world, they start EMI from the third year of primary level. Why is there a need for EMI in China as they have the most spoken language in the world? China is the leading economy in the world. It doesn’t need to depend on other countries. It doesn’t need to worry about foreign employment and it has excelled in technology. Despite all, it is also adopting EMI. The reality of our country is different. So, it we can’t compare with other countries.

In our context, the existing law and policy are sufficient. The important thing is to implement it honestly.

We are still not able to teach EFL/ESL effectively in our schools. In this context, don’t you think it is a hurry to start teaching other subjects in English medium?

You are right but the major question is how effective the Nepali medium classes are. We can never start if we wait to fix everything and then start. Attempts for changes have to be made. Schools have never been forced to shift for EMI. This shift has taken place in those schools which are interested to start and their infrastructure, teachers and SMC are ready for it. Nothing can stop those who are willing for change and those who want to remain as they are, there is easy policy for them too. You know that that institutional schools use EMI. Are there sufficient and qualified teachers for EMI? I’ve also found their teachers weak in both language and contents. Challenges are obvious during reformation. We need to move forward resolving the problems.

When children are taught and exposed to English language from very young age instead of teaching in their home language. Such products for instance, from private boarding schools, are found to be loving foreign language and culture rather than their own. Furthermore, the government is also promoting English language. In this context, what will be the effect in Nepali language and culture after introducing EMI at very young age?

The issue you raised is serious. However, it makes no difference. Have the products taught in Nepali medium protected and promoted their language and culture? Are they aware of their language and culture? Have they used their local or home language? Has the only use of Nepali or local language helped in the livelihood of people and in international competitions? And, have the ones taught through EMI gone against the languages and cultures of their country? Language is only a medium of learning. Although children are taught through EMI, they have spent more of their time at home. Have parents made their children aware of their language and culture? Every house has been promoting Hindi language watching Hindi movies, TV serials and cartoons on TV. Hasn’t it promoting the culture? Similarly, hasn’t the culture coming through English movies and cartoons? The education in schools has made the future leaders prosperous. The issue you raised is more serious for out of school scenario rather than schools.

What kind of programmes and modality does NCED have to produce qualified teachers for teaching through EMI?

NCED supports through trainings. Although we don’t have sufficient trainers, we provide training through our roaster trainers. We’ve prepared 150 trainers in cooperation with British Council in the last year and developed the package. I think now time has come to select teachers having basic communication skills in English in community schools. Like Public Service Commission, Teachers Service Commission also  need to test the English language skills of teachers. Talking about our programme, we now are going to design our modality in terms of needs of teachers including EMI training.

Choutari team would like to thank the Executive Director of NCED for his valuable time and insights into the practice of EMI. 

How can effectiveness of In-Service Teacher Training be maximized?

invert me

JEEVAN KARKI

…..opportunities for in-service training are crucial to the long-term development of teachers as well as for the long- term success of the programs in which they work…”

–Richards (2005)

In-service teacher training (ISTT) is essential for teachers to enhance their professional skills and update themselves with the latest trends in pedagogy. In order to serve the purpose, government of Nepal formally established National Council for Educational Development (NCED) in 1993 under the Ministry of Education (MoE).

The NCED is an apex body responsible for human resource development in Education, especially in pedagogy. One of the major activities of NCED is to provide ISTT to in-service teachers in different phases for their professional development.

Every year, ISTT programs are conducted to in-service teachers across the country through NCED itself or Lead Resource Centers (LRC) and Resource Centers (RC) based in district levels. However, it is reportedly argued that the effectiveness and impact of such trainings in the classroom remains yet to be capitalized on. For this interactive article, I have made attempts to bring views and opinions of the concerned stakeholders including Dr Anjana Bhattarai, Head of English Education, Central Department of Tribhuvan University (TU), Dr Laxman Gnawali, Associate Professor at Kathmandu University (KU) School of Education, training expert from NCED, teacher educators, and Resource Persons and teachers.

They were asked:

“The government of Nepal offers in-service training to teachers but there is not much visible improvement in the pedagogy in classroom. What can be the causes behind it and how can the in-service teacher training be made highly effective and productive?

DR ANJANA BHATTARAI  | Head of English Education, Central Department, TU, Nepal

anjanabhattaraiIn my perspective one of the most important factors contributing for ineffective in-service teacher training is the attitude of teachers. Most teachers (not all because few are active and work hard) do not feel such training as an opportunity for their professional development, whereas they feel it as a chance to earn extra money. It is a tragedy that we are yet unable to make them feel the importance of it. Therefore, teachers need to change their attitude and apply the skills learnt in training in their classroom. I think a possible solution for this problem can be a good head teacher. If a head teacher has positive attitude towards training and encourages his teachers to apply new ideas in classroom, teachers cannot afford to be reluctant to transfer the skills in the classrooms.

Weak monitoring system is yet another factor for this problem. Despite having Resource Persons (RP) and supervisors, the government is unable to make monitoring effective. Classroom inspection and supervision are not taken seriously. The RPs do not observe classes minutely and offer constructive feedback to teachers, whereas they meet teachers (in some cases they meet in paper only), ask how they are doing and teachers obviously say they are doing wonderful. How can this ensure teachers are transferring the skills in their classes?

The next contributing factor is existence of impunity. We do not have strong and effective mechanism to reward those who are doing well and penalize irresponsible ones. This eventually discourages the teachers who are willing to do something.

I think there is some problem in our parents too. Parents need to visit schools, show their interests in the activities of school and raise question behind weak performance of their children.

To sum up, if we can change the attitude of teachers, make our monitoring system efficient, encourage parents to raise questions in schools and make provision of reward and punishment, the impact of training can be better than now.

Dr Laxman Gyanwali | Associate Professor (ELT) | School of Education Kathmandu University

 

nelta-conference-16A few classroom visits in Nepal can tell us how ineffective the impact of the government-run in-service training has been. When I ask my graduate students why such a wastage of resources, they say the training does not directly link to the real classrooms, ignores local contexts, and does not address trainees’ mental constructs,  their needs and expectations. I fully agree with them. However, for me the main culprits for the ineffective teacher training are the trainers. You may ask why.  No trainer has been trained to be a teacher trainer. Each of them has a degree on pedagogy not on andragogy. They do not have a faintest idea of adult learning. Because the trainers in the government system have a permanent position, they do not bother for their own development. And they pass on their attitude to the teachers who they train.

There is only one solution to rectify this situation. Let’s set requirements for the entry as well as for the promotion for teacher trainers. They need to have a degree on training and andragogy and they also need to undergo periodic CPD, just as the teachers do. For me, training is as effective as the trainer involved in it. 

Balram Adhikari | translator, and a lecturer at Mahendra Ratna Campus, Kathmandu

1924893_829718523720484_26654504_nThe in-service teachers should count themselves fortunate for getting the opportunity to learn and to teach at the same time.  Also, they should be gratitude to the concerned authority for providing them with such opportunity. However, it is a sad fact that take away from the training session is less and its translation into the actual classroom teaching is even lesser. There could be multitude of causes behind this ranging from training policy to classroom pedagogy. Since the limited space prevents me from digging depth into the issue, I point out two areas of training drawing on my own experience of teacher and teacher educator both. The first is attitudes. It is not uncommon to hear in the training the participant teachers saying, “It only works here in the training hall, not in our schools”.  Most participants have this ‘it doesn’t work’ attitude.  First, the training should aim at inculcating positive attitudes in teachers. Only the positive beginning can lead us to the positive ending. Here I am reminded of Thomas Friedman’s famous saying, “If it is not happening, it is because you are not doing it”. 

Second is the nature of training itself.  Training should be based on target demands needs. By its very nature, training implies equipping a specific group of teachers with specific skills, strategies, knowledge and resources to help them address specific problems in a specific teaching-learning context. That is, everything is specific in teacher training. Only specific training packages can address specific teaching-learning problems. The specificity in training calls for involvement the target teachers in framing the training package.

 Parshu Ram Tiwari | NCED Trainer of English

ParashuramNCED conducts many in-service teacher trainings out of them TPD is the nationwide training program. These trainings actually implemented by Educational Training Centres (ETC), LRCs and RCs under the guideline developed by NCED. Except TPD, other several training programs like CAS training, MLE training, MGML training, training for the teachers using English as MoI etc.

It is not fact that there is zero transfer of teacher training in classroom. Some teachers who are devoted to their profession have brought newness and innovations in their classrooms due to knowledge and skilled learned in training. However, effectiveness in classroom hasn’t been noticed as the training expects.

There are some inhibiting factors to the transfer of teacher training, which are as below:

  • Especially roaster trainers in RC level are not efficient to conduct training.
  • In ETCs and RCs, there are not well equipped training hall to use modern technology for delivering training.
  • Teachers demand general needs, not academic and pedagogical needs. Very few teachers demand technical needs but they are not addressed properly.
  • District education office puts the training program in low priority.
  • Teachers have no dedication, motivation and willingness to implement training skill and knowledge in the classroom and they are reluctant to change their traditional ways of teaching with modern ones.
  • Training has not been linked with teachers’ career path.
  • No provision of follow-up support mechanism
  • No support and encouragement from school (Head teacher and SMC) to teacher for implementing training in classroom.
  • No rewarding system to those teachers who teaches using methods and techniques learned in training.

Suggestions

  • Training needs to be conducted only in LRCs and ETCs.
  • Training program needs to be well monitored and supervised.
  • Incentive for teachers who complete training successfully and transfer it effectively in the classroom.
  • Training needs to be linked with the promotion and upgrading
  • Training centers need to be equipped with modern technology and resources.
  • Follow up and support mechanism need to be developed.
  • School must support the teachers to transfer training skill in classroom by providing resources and making the classroom environment conducive.
  • Teachers need to develop collaborative learning and sharing culture among teachers.

 Govinda Prasad Chaulagain | Resource Person, District Education OfficeSolukhumbu

GovindaAs a resource person, I see there are a couple of reasons why in-service teacher training is not helping to improve the pedagogy in classroom. First of all, the student-teacher ratio in some school is very high. In few schools there are up to 120 students in a single class! Therefore, it is quite challenging to make classroom interactive. When a teacher tries to do something new in group/peers classroom goes out of control and hence they return to old method. Besides, teachers also have to teach more than usual number of periods because of lack of teachers. Therefore, they are not encouraged to try something new because of more work load.

Lack of materials and resources is another problem. Schools do not have even basic things to develop teaching-learning materials. Similarly, in some schools, there are not even reference materials for teachers. So they are compelled to depend on textbooks fully. The textbooks are clutch, a survival kit and everything for them.

There is also problem with permanent teachers working for long. They are comparatively more inactive than temporary or contract teachers in terms of transferring skills in the classroom. Not only that sometimes, they manage to skip trainings too.

I think there is problem in the present Teachers Professional Development (TPD) modality for in-service teachers. There is a top-down approach in designing training package. The trainers design training package that does not correlate with the actual needs of teachers. On the other hand, teachers themselves also cannot spell out what are their actual needs and always talk about the same issues like large classroom, unavailability of resources and materials and so on.

Finally, to make our in-service training highly effective, we should not forget to address the issues raised above.

 Ashok Raj Khati  | Training Specialist at REED  Nepal, & adjunct faculty  at Gramin Aadharsha Multiple Campus, Kathmandu

AshokFirst of all, I am quite convinced that in-service teacher-training programs can never be ineffective because they definitely provide some visions and frames for teaching. A trained teacher approaches to the students with some sort of framework, philosophy and guidelines; he or she could deal with students even on the way or on a bus far better than untrained ones.

However, to what extent the effectiveness of a particular teacher-training program becomes visible inside the classroom is an important aspect. It is true that some teacher training programs are more effective than others. They are primarily so because of positive attitude and motivational orientation of participants and facilitators toward professional learning. There are always a few people who assume that their qualification and experience could be adequate to teach in a specific context. This tendency does not produce effective training outcomes.

In addition, if teachers’ socio-cultural contexts and interests are encapsulated in teacher training programs, they are likely to be more effective. In recent years, new trends in teacher training programs such as in-school support, collaborative approach, researching and conferencing have been proved successful in mitigating the specific challenges faced by teachers in Nepali contexts. Similar type of training modality for years creates monotony on the part of teachers and they find training as a form of ‘ritual’ in their career.

Bhupal Sin Bista | Faculty of English, Shree Phutung Higher Secondary School, Kathmandu

The government has envisioned the provision in-service teacher training for the community school teachers for the efficiency and efficacy of teaching methodology exploited while conducting classroom lessons. The considerable amount of national budget allocated in the education sector has been separated for this purpose. Every year such trainings are conducted in RCs, LRCs and educational training centers on need based. It should have resulted in the tremendous improvement in the educational sector of the nation by now but the reality is something beyond our imagination. That is to say, the in-service teacher training does not have tangible impact on the teacher’s educational pedagogy. There can be several factors behind it. Some of the factors that bring about this gap might subsume:

  • Lack of training needs assessment
  • Lack of expertise in training guidance
  • Lack of appropriateness of training content
  • Lack of instructional aids
  • Lack of persistent monitoring and supervision
  • Lack of stick and carrot approach
  • Lack of learning culture
  • Classroom dynamics
  • Physical facilities of the school
  • Classroom size
  • Lack of adjusting training with TPD, including career development

These are the crucial issues seen with regard to the transfer of teacher training inside the classroom teaching. To improve the existing scenario, such issues are to be addressed decently meeting the needs of the individual teacher and the school. Furthermore, teachers should be encouraged to do so with diminishing the digital divide via appropriate and feasible policy, strategy, guideline and programmes.

Sakun Joshi | Faculty of English, Shree Sitapaila Higher Secondary School, Sitapaila 

SakunEvery year, the government invests a good amount of budget to provide in-service and refresher training to in-service teacher aiming to increase educational quality of the nation. In spite of having such efforts, there is still not much visible improvement in the pedagogy in the classroom. Some prominent causes behind the present situation can be as follows:

  • Improper classroom size to perform different techniques in classroom.
  • The large number of pupil in the classroom is another problem, which makes difficulty to manage lesson and prepare sensible teaching aids and demonstrate them in classroom.
  • The administration of many community schools does not show interest towards innovative teaching and learning.
  • Sometimes teachers knowledge on the content is also a constrain to successful teaching learning
  • Lack of creativeness and professionalism among teachers due to insecurity of their job.
  • Lack of regular and continuous supervision from the monitoring body.

I think fulfillment of the following requirements can help bring improvement in the pedagogy in the classroom:   

  • Give proper concern towards the improvement of the physical condition of schools including availability of enough materials and references.
  • School administration should be enthusiastic towards bringing new technology in school.
  • Teachers should be given every opportunity to exercise their lesson as per their needs.
  • There should be provision of strict supervision following with reward and punishment to teachers.

The stakeholders highlighted on different causes and proposed ideas above to make ISST effective and productive. Here I urge our valued readers to please feel free to share if you have something to say on the issue. Please express your views in the comment box.