Schools turning into playground for politicians

Published On: January 25, 2017 07:52 AM NPT By: Raju Adhikari

JHAPA, Jan 25: Politics should have been the last thing to be entertained in an academic institution. However, community schools in Jhapa are fully under political influence, thanks to the politicians’ control over the management committee.

Political influence has grown to such an extent that until and unless the political parties sort out differences and share the ‘school power’ among themselves, the children’s zone cannot function well.

“When it is the politicians who are given the power to run schools, how can we expect good things to happen in our society,” said a teacher in Kankai Secondary School, requesting anonymity. “In many schools, the parties are not able to settle disputes and then such schools do not run classes properly. How can they, when the management committee is not in place,” he added. 

Kankai School’s Management Committee has come into full shape despite several rounds of discussions. According to a guardian Shiva Gautam, several rounds of meetings were held to decide who would head the school’s management committee, but the matter was not solved. “Every time, they would only quarrel in the meeting.

Matter would reach nowhere and then they would leave,” said Gautam. “Whether the position would go into the pocket of Congress, or Maoists or UML, it is decided depending on the strength of their ground at the local level. It is a very sorry state,” he added.

School’s Principal Asha Sharma Shivakoti informed that decision to have Janardan Sharma, backed by CPN-UML, preside over the schools management committee was scraped by other political parties.

They had earlier conceded to his appointment. 

Shivakoti informed that Sharma was chosen for the post in the presence of Hira Thapa and Bhishma Mainali backed by the CPN-UML, Ramesh Shrestha backed by the Nepali Congress, Bishnu Bimali backed by the CPN - Maoists Center. 

“We had selected the chairman with everyone’s consent. Yet, later that was not accepted. We are yet to appoint a leader for the committee,” expressing concerns that it would take time for issue to be resolved. 

Durgapur Secondary School is also enmeshed in similar politics. Nepali Congress backed Balkrishana Situala was recently elected unanimously for the heading the school’s management committee. However, the decision was disputed later and to this day it continues. 
Similarly, Shahid Dharma Bhakta Secondary School of Karekha also had its share of troubles in finalizing a school management committee. It recently succeeded in getting one in place. 

Political interference in school’s management increased after last year’s amendment to the Education Act. The amendment removed the provision that only a guardian of the school could lead its management committee. Before the amendment for being chairman of the management committee it was mandatory for the person to be a guardian.

“Community schools were not free of politics even earlier. But after the amendment to the Education Act, anyone can be the chairman of the school’s management committee. This has turned schools into political playground,” Gautam said.

Management committee of community schools take decisions related to the promotion of teachers, their transfers, leaves, levels of pay and so on. They also play role in the appointment of teachers. Apart from all this power, control over schools mean stronger political base for them. “That is why the parties die to secure major roles in schools management. Such acts affect discipline and education environment in the school, but that does not matters to politicians. They are concerned with power,” he further added. 

During elections, political parties massively misuse schools resources while disturbing school’s education environment, guardians complain. There are 365 community schools in the district according to District Education Office. And majority of them have political appointees in the management committee. 

Educationists say that this culture is extremely poisonous for the education sector. According to them, the state should not allow political activities or vibes to run a mock in schools as they are the ground that shape children’s personality and character. “It is such a serious matter, but who cares? Political appointment in school management committee is too much harmful,” says educationist Shekhar Koirala. “They are making it a open political field,” he added. 

He suggested that the government must make provisions to ensure that politics stays away from schools and that political parties don’t run schools. “Schools must be freed from politics,” he stated. 

Similarly, District Education Officer, Uddhav Bista also maintained that educational policies, not political parties, should guide schools. “To correct things, political parties, and concerned stakeholders must have honest approach towards schools and education,” he said.

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