KATHMANDU, April 3: Disregarding a Supreme Court (SC) directive to private schools not to increase their fees before a lapse of three years, the schools have increased the fees by up to 60 percent.
The SC directed the schools five years ago to revise their fee structure only at intervals of three years. “However, the private schools have increased the fees by 60 percent for the academic session beginning from April 14,” said Keshav Puri, president of the Guardians' Association Nepal (GAN). “They hike the fees every year in contravention of the SC order,” he added.
According to GAN, all the big private schools in Kathmandu Valley have increased their fees. Paragon Public School, which operates under the National Private and Boarding Schools Organization of Nepal (NPABSON), increased its fees by 60 percent while another Valley school has charged Rs. 60,000 as re-admission fees, said Puri, without disclosing the name of the school charging the huge re-admission fee. “Charging fees in the name of re-admission is exploitation of the guardians. Do we have to admit our children to the same school every year?” he asked.
The anomalies at private schools do not end there. Private schools have charged from Rs 100 to Rs. 1,000 for the admission forms. The SC five years ago ordered them not to Charge more than Rs. 25 for an admission form and not more than Rs 100 for the admissions test. “The private schools are charging the guardians as though they are five star hotels,” Puri said.
There are more than 5,000 private schools across the country, including over 1,500 in the Valley, according to private school organizations. Some 1.5 million students are enrolled in these schools.
Private schools have to get their new fee structures approved by a two-third majority of the guardians and also acquire permission from the Fee Restructuring Committee and the District Education Office (DEO). But the private schools simply ignore the rules, according to GAN.
Karna Bahadur Shahi, president of NPABSON, said the SC order was impractical. “Increasing the fees is not up to the schools,” Shahi said. “They need to be revised as per the inflation rate,” he added. “However, the increase must be justifiable and approved by the guardians.”
The private schools cite inflation and the need to pay the teachers to justify their high fees. “But many private schools pay their teachers rather lower than the government scale,” said Puri.
The government is just a mute spectator and officials at the Ministry of Education pass the buck to the DEOs when it comes to monitoring the schools and taking action against them.
Admitting to the violation of rules by private schools, Jaya P Acharya, chief of Kathmandu District Education Office, said they have not done any monitoring at present. “We will monitor the schools when the new academic session begins and will take necessary action,” he said. “However, we have sought verbal clarifications from Paragon Public School.”
Private schools violating the rules can be fined up to Rs. 25,000 and have their licenses canceled. However, the government always repeats the same commitment bu takes no concrete action with visible results.