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Regulating private sector still a far cry

NIRJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, Dec 31: It was a tumultous year for the education sector.

In response to a writ filed by advocates Shree Krishna Subedi, Kapil Pokhrel and Rabin Subedi at the Supreme Court (SC), the division bench of Justices Tahir Ali Ansari and Baidhyanath Upadhyay issued an 11-point order seeking to regulate the freewheeling private schools and colleges.

The verdict demanded that the concerned authorities come up with a wide range of reform program to ensure quality and affordable education for all.

Issued in August 2012, the verdict directed the government to strictly monitor private schools and colleges to ensure people´s right to education.

In the verdict addressed to the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Education, Department of Education (DoE), Curriculum Development Board, Private and Boarding School Association of Nepal (PABSON) and N-PABSON, the judges directed the authorities to regulate fees as well as deter sale of unapproved and expensive books by private schools and colleges and evaluate infrastructure before granting licenses.

As per the verdict, schools should not charge more than Rs 25 for admission forms and Rs 100 in entrance fees.

Hike in fees without prior approval from government agencies was also denied by the court that also barred the schools and colleges from raising fees for three years.

The government, jolted by the SC verdict, realized the need to control overt commercialization of education and has even introduced a guideline to regulate the private education institutions in 2012.

The DoE, in coordination with journalists, guardians and district education offices had launched a monitoring drive in which over 40 percent of private schools and colleges were found charging fees higher than recommended by the department.

Private schools and colleges, however, continue to operate flagrantly defying the apex court verdict and the Ministry of Education.

The PABSON chairman Baburam Pokhrel has maintained that it is impossible to follow the SC verdict, while the Higher Secondary Schools´ Association Nepal (HISSAN) has refused to ask its members, who do not meet required criterias, to remove the word ´international´ from their names.

Pokharel challenged the order saying that the schools would not be in a position increase the salaries of teachers and staff if they are not allowed to increase fees for three years. “The SC order cannot stop the price inflation in all sectors,” he said.

Currently, some private schools charge up to Rs 20,000 as admission fee for primary level though the government has approved a maximum charge of Rs 2,500 for the secondary level.

There are around 10,000 private schools in the country, including more than 2000 in the Valley. As per the data available with HISSAN, 400 private colleges in the Valley charge Rs 100,000 to 180,000 in fees for courses in humanities, management and science.

As the year was coming to an end, some of the private and boarding schools crossed all limits of defiance by prohibiting health volunteers deployed by the Department of Health to administer measles vaccines to small students.

It is a result of government´s inability to act tough against the law breakers in the education sector, say experts. “The government should have shown enough courage to punish those who have industrialized the education in the name of service,” said educationist Mana Prasad Wagle. “The entire system has been highly commercialized at present.”

He further warns that coming years would be tougher for the government as the public schools have been hit hard due to declining student enrollment.

In the Kathmandu Valley alone, 24 public schools were shut following zero student enrollment this year. Similarly, 37 others are on the verge of collapse by next academic session.

“If the situation continues, most community schools will be shut within 10 years,” added Wagle.

Source: Republica Daily
Published on 2012-12-31 03:30:52
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About nirjanasharma

Journalist.

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