KATHMANDU, May 22: The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) has done nothing to implement the agreement reached more than two weeks ago to scrap the fee hike by private schools. As a result, the deal is unlikely to be implemented this year too like in the previous years.
None of the agreements signed every year in the past to regulate the fees in private schools was implemented. The stakeholders including private schools agreed on May 5 to refund illegally raised fees by signing a five-point agreement after continuous pressure from student unions but without giving a deadline to implement it.
“Nothing has been done yet to implement the agreement signed to regulate the fee structures in private schools,” said Suprabhat Bhandari, former president of the Guardians’ Association Nepal (GAN). “It’s our tradition not to implement the agreements, which are made only to foil the strikes,” he added. “This trend never gives justice to the affected people by maintaining law and order.”
The promises made in the agreement are to return the increased fees, ban selling of stationery materials and uniforms from schools, implement Fee Structure of Private Schools Directives, 2072, and maintain transparency in the scholarships set aside for those who cannot afford education.
According to the agreement signed on May 5, the education ministry will take initiatives for returning the increased fees in coordination with the local bodies. Following the agreement, the student unions have called off all forms of protests. Private and Boarding Schools Organization Nepal (PABSON) and National Private and Private Schools Association Nepal (N-PABSON) representatives, student and guardians organizations reached an agreement in the presence of Giriraj Mani Pokhrel, Minister for Education, Khagraj Baral, Secretary at the Ministry, Baburam Paudel, director general of the Department of Education and chief of metropolitan city and municipalities of the Kathmandu valley.
“We will warn the government and private schools for the implementation of the deal,” said Pushpa Kumar Shahi, vice-president of Nepal Students Union, admitting that the deal is yet to be implemented. “It may take one more month to implement it,” he added.
The private schools increased the tuition fees by up to 30 percent and charged up to Rs 200,000 as admission fee for the current academic session which began from April 14. Additionally, the private schools have also charged the readmission fees in the name of annual fees from the students against the Fee Restructuring Directive 2072 BS. There are about 6,000 private (institutional) schools across the country.
Representatives of All Nepal National Free Student Union (ANNFSU), affiliated to the erstwhile CPN-UML, the NSU, affiliated to Nepali Congress, All Nepal National Independent Students Union-Revolutionary (ANNISU-R), affiliated to the erstwhile CPN (Maoist Center), All Nepal National Free Student Union (ANNFSU) sixth and Nepal Democratic Student Union, affiliated to Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party, staged a series of protests against the fee hike in private schools since the beginning of the current academic session.
Bijaya Sambahamphe, president of PABSON, said that the MoEST should have formed a task force to monitor and implement the agreement. “However, I have not received any information about the formation of such a panel,” he said.
Saying that the lack of updated information about the implementation, Baikuntha Aryal, spokesperson for the MoEST, passed the buck to DG Paudel, asking Republica to seek further information from him.
DG Paudel admitted that the committee to look into the issue is yet to be formed. “We will form the task force soon. Then we will give the private schools a deadline to implement the decision,” he said. “After all, the panel will monitor the situation of implementation of the agreement.”