Earlier, when schools and colleges were talked about, it was purely in terms of academic excellence. People used to value academic grades far more than extra-curricular activities. However, today, the corporate leaders might not hire an employee for his/ her academic performance but for the number of certificates he/ she has earned in extra- curricular activities.
Over the past few decades, the conduction of extra-curricular activities in schools and colleges worldwide has increased enormously thus establishing its increasing relevance in the growth of a student. Since extra-curricular activities have now become a game changer around the globe, a careful examination of such activities in Nepal has become extremely crucial.
With passing time, the definition of education has transformed. Earlier, education was all about the accumulation of knowledge but today, education entails the all-round development of a person. Today, a person who knows only how to read and write is considered literate but not educated.
Jaya Narayan Bhusal, a teacher at Gems School, said, “Instead of using the word extra-curricular activities, we should call them co-curricular activities because these activities complement academic activities.”
Bhusal added, “A person might have immense knowledge. However, if he/ she can’t communicate his/ her ideas dynamically through his/ her personality, the purpose of education ends up in smoke. Co-curricular activities ultimately polish such soft skills amongst students.”
However, it is in the recent decades that extra-curricular activities have seen a rapid growth. So, the question persists. What is it that has led to this tremendous growth?
Keshar Limbu, a teacher at Galaxy Public School, said, “Innovation and creativity have led to the creation of unique job opportunities in varieties sectors and some of these jobs require a sound base in extra-curricular activities. Thus, responsible schools have inculcated these activities in their respective curriculums keeping in mind the newer jobs.”
Bhusal also added a bit of perspective to the entire discourse. He said, “Cricketers like Paras Khadka have not only gained a lavish lifestyle for themselves but have also made the country proud through extra-curricular activities. Otherwise, they might not even have gained a degree for themselves.”
However, in order to increase the relevance of extra-curricular activities in Nepal, the conventional job market still needs to undergo drastic changes. To this, Bhusal said, “We see how sports professionals and dancers in Nepal are migrating to other nations subject to a severe paucity of facilities and services.”
In neighbouring India, there are government colleges that actually enroll students on the basis of outstanding performers in extra-curricular activities.
Dipan Shrestha, the coordinator of KUSOM Annual Festival at Kathmandu University, said, “Nepalese schools and colleges have efficiently upgraded the level of extra-curricular activities to match the requirements. The educational institutions have balanced out academic and co-curricular activities appropriately keeping in mind the fact that a solitary focus on extra-curricular activities would divert the students from their ultimate purpose of gaining academic excellence.”
Though extra-curricular activities have been introduced in the educational institutions, the number of students showing active participation and enthusiasm in these activities is very limited. One of the major reasons behind this is the increased pressure for good academic records from the parents.
A few parents have also been vouching for the abolishment of extra-curricular activities at educational institutions. Some of them are of the opinion that if any of the students seek to develop soft skills, they should take refuge to separate platforms.
However, Akriti Panta, an alumnus of St. Mary’s, opposed this thought process saying, “It should be a mandatory requirement for schools to have extra-curricular activities as a part of their course curriculum because children spend most of their time inside their school corridors. Thus, looking for an external development platform is practically impossible.”
Shrestha added, “If a student is extremely interested in co-curricular activities, then he/ she should have the power to convince his/ her parents. Most often, students don’t participate in such activities because they either don’t find it relevant or they aren’t triggered by it and not because their parents haven’t permitted them.”
Conducting extra-curricular activities without proper quality checks can ultimately jeopardize a student’s career by having his/ her focus diverted from academics. Unfortunately, this is something that is mostly happening in the educational institutions of Nepal.
In this context, Limbu said, “The infrastructural development of schools in Nepal is not good enough to have quality extra-curricular activities. Also, the schools include extra-curricular activities as a part of their course curriculums without having proficient and well-trained teachers.”
Thus, Nepalese schools and colleges have started giving preference and priorities to extra-curricular activities but the quality of these activities needs further upgradation for sound, sustainable and healthy development of students.
All in all, due to the development of extra-curricular activities from the school level itself, the Nepalese education system is creating dynamic bright minds with good personalities thereby aiding the creation of a better future.
Reporting by Mahima Poddar, Glocal Khabar Special Correspondent, Kathmandu, Nepal