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Under fire PABSON defies MoE guidelines

NIRJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, March 12: In what amounts to a challenge to the Supreme Court (SC) order and the government´s guideline, the Private and Boarding School Association of Nepal (PABSON) has said that it will not comply with the recently introduced Private and Boarding School Directive 2013.

Organizing a press meet on Monday, the PABSON core committee members said that the private schools would not implement the guidelines that were against their business. The PABSON has demanded amendments to the new directive to turn the directive in their favor.

The PABSON, which was involved in writing the draft the guideline, had participated in every discussion sessions organized by the MoE until the preparation of the final directive. But now, following the immense pressure from its district-based executive committees, the organization is taking a contradictory stand.

It has been learnt that the PABSON´s latest move has come after the district members´ threatened to replace the present central committee.

“PABSON district members are strongly opposed to the merger policy which, they said, would not be sustainable,” said Umesh Shrestha, advisor to PABSON.

The directive states that the schools with poor infrastructures and less than 22 students in each class would be forced to undergo a merger. If the directive gets implemented, around 4000 private schools face merger. The number represents 40 percent of the total schools in the country.

Similarly, the directive also includes provisions on earthquake sustainability of school buildings, playgrounds, practical labs and libraries.

It also puts a limit on the weight of bags students carry depending upon their grade. Likewise, the standard distance for the Kathmandu Valley-based students and across the country has been set and the District Education Offices have been authorized to monitor the implementation.

The PABSON Chairman Baburam Pokhrel also opposed the limitations on how much schools and colleges can spend on advertisements arguing that any organization registered with the Office of the Company Registrar can´t be restricted on ads.

“The government guideline does not prioritize quality education,” he said. “The private sector needs at least five years to create the infrastructure as described by the directive.”

There are around 10,000 private schools in the country.

Pokhrel and his committee members said that the private sector would revolt if the government does not amend the law.

Meanwhile, the Guardians´ Association of Nepal (GoN) has given seven days ultimatum to PABSON to begin the implementation process or be prepared for strong protests from the guardians.

On the same day, GoN Chairman Suprabhat Bhandari handed over a black flag to PABSON at its central office in Dillibazar.

Meanwhile, government officials have said that those private institutions who defy the law would ultimately face strict actions. The MoE spokesperson Mahashram Sharma said the guidelines introduced after a phase-wise discussion among all the stakeholders can´t be amended to fulfill the vested interests of any individual organization.

“PABSON is not a parallel government to flout the legal directive and it cannot defy the court order,” mentioned Sharma. “The government will make sure that PABSON complies or it will face action.”

The nine member committee that drafted the law included the director of the Department of Education, representatives of the GoN, student leaders, journalists, PABSON and N-PABSON. The directive came into effect on February 19 following the Supreme Court verdict to regulate the private institutions.

Source: Republica Daily
Published on 2013-03-12 03:38:42
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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