KATHMANDU, July 16: Citing the ongoing crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the private schools haven’t paid their staff for over six months now. Some schools have even asked their teachers and staff to go on unpaid leave. Some teachers and staff have even criticized schools ousting them from their jobs. Till this day, 300 teachers from schools across the country have been asked to go on unpaid leave, leaving them unemployed and frustrated.
Helpless teachers from institutional schools have now warned of subjecting themselves to self-immolation if this situation continues any longer. JP Kaphle, a teacher in one of the private schools in Itahari said that he hasn’t been paid his salary since the Nepali month of Magh. His wife is a kidney patient whose life is sustained on medicines. “I have been managing money to buy medicines for my wife with the money I had saved previously,” Kaphle told Republica over the phone. “I haven’t been paid for the last six months. The money I had saved is almost spent now; I don’t know how I will sustain my family if this continues any longer,” he said, adding,” if the government doesn’t stand up to do something we’ll have to face a huge disaster.”
Manoj Sunuwar, a 30-year-old teacher from Nepalgunj, expressed his nuisance about the current situation with Republica. Sunuwar who is the only breadwinner of his family has to look after a two year old son and his wife who is a housewife. “My salary is the only means to sustain my family. It’s frustrating that I haven’t been paid for months now and it is getting difficult to look after my family,” Sunuwar said.
He even mentioned that the school authorities try to avoid his calls whenever he tries to contact them.
Bhola Chalise, general secretary of Institutional School Teachers Union (ISTU) stated that the school he teaches hasn’t even provided contract papers to the staff. Chalishe who also teaches at Times International College, Dillibazaar, also said that he hasn’t been paid for a long time and he fears losing his job anytime soon. “Registering the names in the company, schools have long been receiving profits. But to hear that they are having a hard time to pay salary for just 3-4 months saddens me,” he said.
According to Chalise, teachers like him haven’t heard a single word as response or relief even when they have submitted memorandum to the education ministry, schools as well as responsible authorities for multiple times. There are about 200,000 teachers associated with private schools across the country, according to Hom Kumar Thapa, president of ISTU. He stated that if the authorities do not take action within a couple of days, teachers associated with ISTU will take to the streets, to protest the inaction.
Thapa claimed that many teachers haven’t been paid since the last six months even though the lockdown was imposed just four months ago. As mentioned by Thapa, there was a meeting held between members from ISTU and Nepal Teachers Association on Tuesday. “The teachers are extremely strained mentally. Some teachers associated with ISTU even say that they’ll take self-destructive actions in front of the education ministry if the authorities do not take action in time.”
Meanwhile, school authorities state that they haven’t been able to pay fees to their staff because they haven’t been able to collect fees from students. Tikaram Acharya, secretary of Private and Boarding School Organization Nepal claims that the school authorities are having a hard time to pay their staff as they haven’t collected fees from the students and yet the government hasn’t reduced the monthly interest on their loans.