Over 500 affiliations issued to private colleges by two thirds-majority govt
KATHMANDU, Jan 2: The present two thirds-majority government has been drafting a National Education Bill with a proposed provision for ending private investment in school education in seven years' time. However, Minister for Education, Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokharel has preferred to exempt the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) from the bill because of intentions to issue affiliations to over 1,000 private colleges.
More than 500 affiliations under Tribhuvan University including 116 for Bachelor's in Computer Applications and eight for Bachelor's in Business Management , 358 affiliations under CTEVT for short course programs to private institutes and affiliations to eight private colleges under the Agriculture and Forestry University (AFU) in Chitwan were issued after Pokharel was appointed education minister 10 months ago. While issuing affiliation with government universities and institutes to private colleges , millions of rupees changed hands, according to stakeholders .
According to CTEVT, the government body has prepared everything including field assessments for about 1,000 private institutes to run diploma and T-SLC (Technical-School Leaving Certificate) programs. An institute needs to deposit Rs 100,000 for infrastructure supervision while Rs 500,000 should be payed to CTEVT for collecting affiliation letters for T-SLC and Rs 1 million for diploma programs.
In 2012/13 during the tenure of then education minister Dina Nath Sharma, proposals were called to run the CTEVT programs . A total of around 2,700 proposals from private institutes were registered. Of these, then minister Sharma approved 1,693 .This was the last time CTEVT called for proposals for running diploma and T-SLC programs, and new proposals will not be called before issuing affiliations under already-registered proposals.
After acceptance of the proposals, subsequent education ministers Chitra Lekha Yadav (2014), Minister Pokharel (2015), Dhani Ram Paudel (2016) and Gopal Man Shrestha (2017) attempted to issue affiliations to private colleges but ran into protests from student organizations. However, Shrestha granted affiliations to 25 institutes in 2017 despite the protests.CTEVT meetings chaired by its vice-chairperson can issue affiliations to private colleges for short course programs and the CTEVT Council headed by the education minister issues affiliations for diploma and T-SLC programs , according to CTEVT sources. “Ministers can influence short-term course affiliations and there is much giving and taking while issuing affiliations to private colleges,” said CTEVT officials, asking not to be identified by name.Education Minister Pokharel is ready to issue affiliations for diploma and T-SLC programs to about 1,000 institutes, the CTEVT officials disclosed.
“However, he is awaiting the approval of the National Medical Education Bill by parliament before taking the affiliation process forward,” said the officials.The Medical Education Bill is currently under discussion in parliament in line with the agreement signed with Dr Govinda KC. The nine-point agreement signed on July 26, 2018 provides for phasing out intermediate level health workers within five years, instead producing bachelor level manpower under CTEVT as nurses, lab-technicians and health workers , upgrading the qualifications of intermediate level health workers and bringing CTEVT under a high level commission to be formed under the new Medical Education Act.However, Pokharel intends to retain CTEVT under the education ministry to keep on issuing affiliations in return for millions in commissions from private institutes, Dr KC has alleged.
“Once it is brought under the high level commission which is proposed to be headed by the prime minister, the education minister will not see any of the commissions. Therefore, Pokharel has taken the stance that CTEVT should be left alone by the new law. As a result, the bill has not been approved by the parliamentary committee and forwarded for parliamentary endorsement,” said Dr KC, who is planning to stage his 16th fast-unto-death from Jan 2.Lawmaker Gagan Kumar Thapa, a former health minister and currently a member of the Education and Health Committee of parliament, said that the issue of CTEVT and affiliations for private medical colleges outside Kathmandu Valley remain undecided as Minister Pokharel insisted on Tuesday also to separate CTEVT from the High Level Medical Education Commission and leave it under the education ministry even though this would be against the agreement reached with Dr KC. “Now, lawmakers have demanded to amend the amendment proposal of lawmaker Dev Gurung regarding the CTEVT issue. This has further complicated the finalization of the deal,” he added.
Speaking at the parliamentary sub-committee meeting of the Education and Health Committee Tuesday, Pokharel said, “CTEVT courses and programs should be categorized as school education and kept under the education ministry.”Short course are being run by 1,078 institutes, and there are 876 institutes under CTEVT including 429 private institutes, five institutes belonging to trusts, 397 government schools and 45 constituent institutes . Altogether 174 programs are under short course and 27 faculties are under both diploma programs and T-SLC .
Short courses are limited to three months, diploma courses to three years and T-SLC to 18 months, according to CTEVT. A total of 21,792 students are enrolled annually in diploma and T-SLC programs.