KATHMANDU, April 21: Ministry of Education (MoE) has directed the Department of Education and the district education offices to monitor fee hikes in private schools and take stringent action against the violators.
“We have directed the Department of Education in written, asking it to monitor the schools,” said Dr Hari Prasad Lamsal, spokesman at the MoE. “The district education offices are ordered to monitor the fee structure in detail and take strong action against any school found to have increased the fees against the rules,” he added.
The ministry issued the directive after student unions submitted a three-day ultimatum to Education Minister Dhani Ram Paudel on April 18 demanding to slash down the hiked fees in private schools.
The student unions which made such demands are Nepal Students Union, All Nepal National Free Students Union, All Nepal National Independent Students Union-Revolutionary, Tarai Madhes Students Front, ANNFSU -Sixth, Rastriya Prajantra Students Union, ANNFSU-Fifth and Naya Shakti Students Union.
“We will hold a meeting tomorrow to discuss about the action initiated by the ministry to address our demands,” said Nain Singh Mahar, president of the Nepal Students Union, affiliated to the Nepali Congress.
“Then, we will decide on how to go ahead. If the government does not take it seriously, we will announce strikes,” he added.
Various private schools have arbitrarily increased fees for the new academic session which started on April 14 without taking permission from the concerned authorities.
The new fee structure of private schools must be approved by two-thirds of the majority of guardians and then the schools must take permission from the Fee Restructuring Committee and the District Education Office (DEO) before increasing the fee.
Five years ago, the Supreme Court had directed the private schools not to increase fees before three years. But the schools were found to have disregarded the court order time and again.
Some schools were reported to have increased up to 60 percent of monthly fees while they have been charging Rs 1,000 for admission form that costs just Rs 125. They were also found to have charged Rs 60,000 charged for re-admission, which is not required as per the existing laws. Schools have been increasing the fees every year against the rule.
According to the existing rules, private schools violating the law can be fined up to Rs 25,000 and their license revoked. However, the government always makes the same commitment of taking stern action against the violators but it hardly takes any action against them.
The private schools have also been forcing the students to buy textbooks, exercise books, uniforms and other stationeries from particular shops in order to get kickbacks, according to the Guardians Association Nepal. The association further informed that the students are not given choice to get reasonable discounts on the stationeries.
There are more than 5,000 private schools across the country, including over 1,500 in the Kathmandu Valley, according to the organizations of the private schools. Some 1.5 million students are enrolled with these private schools.