— Hem Raj Kafle
Long back high school teachers from my part of the country (eastern Nepal) used to travel up to Janakpur to take the one-year B.Ed. examinations. On their return they used to narrate their fortnight-long absence with such zeal as if the examinations alone had reinvigorated them into becoming better teachers. We students only used to revel at those rather embellished stories of their ‘picnicking’ and ‘tourism.’
“Was it really worth more than a mere certificate – only the proof that you had one because you were asked to?” I sometimes asked my English teacher and some other recipients of this One-year degree when I was old enough to question the worth of this one time venture. The answer: just smile or a shrug. But the question always troubled me, especially when people began to demand it from me since I decided to become a teacher. What was the meaning of the compulsion (or fashion?) of obtaining one more certificate? Would it prove anything but a license to claim that you could become a teacher irrespective of how many teacherly qualities were absent in you?
I came to Kirtipur after completing Bachelor of Arts at Urlabari, Morang. I looked for a teaching job before joining TU central campus for my Masters studies. Boarding schools were the immediate destinations. I dropped applications at places. I took written ‘qualifying’ tests at some schools, and faced interviews at others. In all interviews, among many questions one confused me most: “(Why) haven’t you done B.Ed.?” This would come to me as if I had been useless without B.Ed. despite my satisfactory B.A. and four years’ teaching experience. But, I would end up saying, “Well, it’s too early for me to be a B. Ed. I’ve just completed B.A. There’s time. But do you think it is mandatory to have a degree in education to become a good teacher?”
I decided to try One year B.Ed. only when I started my M. A. Thesis. It was simply for owning one extra degree never really caring whether it would help in the future.
During the entrance test I was amazed to see the likes of me. I had a consolation that mine was not an odd time. I decided to take the admission also. On the admission day, I had to meet a professor at the Central Department of English Education for some sort of recommendation/signature. When she saw my papers, she asked, “What do you do?”
“I am doing my M.A. Thesis,” I said.
“Why do you need be a B.Ed. now?” She questioned with a smile. I only smiled in response and left her office.
Yes, why would I need it? By now, I was all set to start teaching in a university/college and was planning teach courses in literature/literary studies. I had only joined a crowd never knowing their purpose of joining, nor mine.
In my interview at Kathmandu University in August 2000, a professor asked me what I was doing in addition to looking for a job. “I’m doing one year B.Ed.” I responded with little more zeal than I had because this was at least something to say in an interview. But this ‘something’ did not make any impression. One of the interviewers retorted, “Why are you trailing backwards? You must be thinking of higher studies now. You know KU even doesn’t employ an M.Ed. to teach English in the Intermediate level.”
But I registered for the final examinations, again after the crowd. I even sat to write one or two papers in the Kiritipur center. What appalled me then was the way my inmates took their exams. You could have a truck-load of guess-papers and guides only from that room. B.Ed., which was a license for being a better teacher, was a mockery in this center. I would not think it was any different elsewhere.
By now B. Ed. had lost the little value I had upheld earlier.
Meanwhile, I was invited to Mahendra Ratna Campus, Tahachal, to teach Teaching English Literature in B. Ed. final year. I was already qualified to teach a university course. Why keep carrying the school level hangover now? I decided to forget that I had once thought of owning a B.Ed. certificate.
I sometimes recall this fiasco, but without regret. How different would I have become if I had forced myself to pass the B.Ed. examinations?