Long back high school teachers from my part of the country used to travel up to Janakpur to take one-year B. Ed. examinations. I would wonder at their stories of momentous ‘picnic’ and ‘tourism’ away from home and school.
“Was it really worth more than a mere certificate – only the proof you had one because you were asked to? You were always a very good teacher.” I once asked my English teacher. Personally, I had never appreciated the ‘fashion’ of adding a certificate. Wasn’t it more than a sheer 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 my Bachelor’s at Urlabari, Morang. I came about half a year earlier with a plan to find a teaching job before my admission in TU. Boarding schools were my 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?” My question would hardly make difference during those days.
I decided to try one-year B. Ed. only when I had started my M. A. Thesis, in 2000. It was simply for owning one extra degree never really caring whether it would help in the future.
On the entrance day, 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 when I had got through the entrance. Once in the course of admission/registration I had to meet Dr. Anjana Bhattarai for some sort of recommendation/signature. When she saw my paper, 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 join a university/college and teach courses in literature/literary studies. I had only joined a crowd never knowing their purpose of owning B. Ed., nor mine.
Some people had explanations, though. In fact, on advantages of remaining a TU guy, apart from a potential certificate. First, you could retain the fame of being a bona fide inmate in the old hostel. Second, you could vote or even contest in the Union elections. Third, you always had the privilege of bus-fare discounts.
In my interview at Kathmandu University in August of the same year, 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 recruit an M.Ed. to teach English in the Intermediate level.”
I registered for the examinations, again after the crowd. I even sat to write one or two papers in the Kirtipur exam 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 teacher, was a mockery in this center. I would not think it was any different elsewhere.
By now B. Ed. had lost the little validity I upheld before.
Meanwhile, I was invited to Mahendra Ratna Campus, Tahachal, to teach the course 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.
Later, KU introduced a One Year M. Ed. Program in the School of Education. Someone advised me to join this parallel degree before managing to go for the higher. But the earlier ‘one-year’ fiasco was sufficient. I was neither trailing backward nor parallel. I was only waiting for my wife to finish her three years B.Ed. in Banepa so that I would plunge headlong to Pokhara University’s M.Phil. in English.
It was the need. I had zeal for it. I achieved the merit I craved and was made for.
So, I am already a Ph.D. scholar at KU.
[An edited version of this article has been published as Reminiscing the B. Ed. Fiasco in NeltaChoutari, August 2010]