KATHMANDU, April 1: While confusion persists over who regulates school fees under the federal setup, private schools across the country have exorbitantly hiked tuition and other fees for the new academic session, which begins from mid-April.
According to Guardians’ Association of Nepal (GAN), the private schools have exorbitantly hiked fees as local bodies in general remain in confusion over their regulatory role although the federal government has delegated them the authority to regulate the schools.
The absence of any regulatory mechanism amid the confusion has emboldened the private schools, which have hiked fees in an unjustified manner, GAN officials said.
According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), there are 7.39 million students from grades 1 to 12 studying in 35,601 schools including 27,833 community and 6,566 private schools with about 1.5 million students across the country. Some private schools charge over Rs 40,000 monthly per student.
The new academic session begins from April 14. The private schools remain unbridled hence the arbitrary hike in fees, said Keshav Puri, the president of the GAN.
“We have found that schools in Lalitpur have increased fees by up to 40 percent. This has never happened before,” said Puri. “Earlier, the central government and district education offices used to implement certain rules. However, private schools are literally beyond any control at all,” he said. “The local bodies have the authority to regulate the schools in their areas,” he added.
The local bodies have been mandated to act as regulatory bodies of schools after the implementation of federalism as per the Constitution of Nepal. They are accountable for monitoring, regulating and even taking action against unscrupulous schools.
But local body officials appear least bothered. Just last week, Bidya Sundar Shakya, the mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, publicly defended private schools saying the schools can charge fees for imparting education.
DK Dhungana, co-chair of Private and Boarding Schools’ Organization of Nepal (PABSON) said the local bodies should assess whether the fees charged by private schools are justified. “I have been told that the local bodies are now looking into the matter,” Dhungana said. “In my school also, we have increased the fees nominally,” he said without elaborating how much fee was increased.
Dhungana further said, “Fees should be reviewed in line with the inflation.”
Meanwhile, MoEST spokesman Baikuntha Aryal expressed ignorance about the fee hike by private schools and said the local bodies in the federal setup are responsible for regulating the schools. “The ministry cannot intervene immediately as the primary responsibility to deal with the matter falls on the local bodies,” he added, saying that haphazard hike in fees must be checked.