Rs 5 billion is estimated being collected in Kathmandu Valley alone
KATHMANDU, April 13: Private schools all over the country have collected an estimated Rs 15 billion from guardians under the head of annual fees for the academic session that begins from April 14. An estimated Rs 5 billion is collected under this head in Kathmandu Valley alone.
There are 5,700 private schools across the country. A total of 1.5 million students are enrolled in these schools throughout the country, according to the Private and Boarding Schools Organization Nepal (PABSON) and the National Private and Boarding Schools Association Nepal (NPABSAN).
The private schools have been reported charging up to Rs 200,000 as admission fees and upto Rs 40,000 as annual fees. The Education Regulations (sectuions 145, 146 and 147) have described in detail the conditions for charging such fees while restricting the fees for readmissions . The regulations allows schools to charge a total annual fee that is not more than the amount of tuition fees for two months.
However, private schools have charged Rs 8,000 on average from each of the 1.5 million students, said Suprabhat Bhandari, former president of the Guardians Association Nepal (GAN). Bhandari, in a paper presented at a conference convened recently by GAN in Hetauda, calculated that the average amount collected as annual fee is Rs 8,000. "We have found that private schools charged upto Rs 200,000 as annual fees," he added. "A and B grade schools charge high annual fees, which is against the rules."
Out of the total of1.5 million students in the 5,700 private schools , about 500,000 study in the 1,600 private schools in Kathmandu Valley, according to private school organizations. This means that around Rs 15 billion is collected under the head of annual fees. This is apart from monthly fees and new admissions as well as special training and exam fees . Similarly, nearly Rs 5 billion is collected under annual fees in the Valley alone.
The private school organizations have admitted that schools have charged the annual fee as the rules don't allow them to charge for readmission . "The rules allow us to charge fees upto a total of two months' tuition fee as annual charges," said Bijaya Sambahamphe, president of PABSON. "If the schools have approved such fees through a meeting of the guardians, they can charge on the higher side and under whatever head," he added.
Ritu Sapkota, president of NPABSAN, also conceded that schools charge annual fees . "The schools should not charge more than what the law has permitted," he said. "The private schools cannot run without charging fees but the fee structure should be rational," he added. "However, the government has never taken the initiative to formulate the basis for a rational fee structure in private schools."
The government has failed to regulate the private schools and force them to operate rationally, said Bhandari. "On the other hand, the private schools have not paid the education tax. Instead of paying the tax out of their gross income they pass it on to the guardians," he added.
Baikuntha Aryal, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), said that private schools cannot charge readmission fees and annual fees at the rate of more than two months' tuition fees. "They can charge for monthly tuition, special training and exams," he said. "We will investigate the matter and take action in coordination with locals bodies to punish schools violating the rules," he added. MoEST expresses this commitment every year but this has never been translated into action.