SC order impractical: Private schools; Conform or pack up: DoE
KATHMANDU, Aug 23: The Supreme Court (SC) appears to have come down hard on private sector education in a year-long case on regulating fees at private schools and colleges and the sale of unapproved and expensive books to students on school premises.
However, the latest verdict directing government agencies to implement an ll-point order to the private sector does not seem to give any respite to students or guardians either.
Guardians have applauded the SC decision, saying that the Department of Education (DoE) and District Education Offices (DEO) should implement the verdict aggressively in order to give students and parents a sense of positive change.
The Private and Boarding Schools Organization (PABSON) says that the SC verdict is not practical.
However, Suprabhat Bhandari, president of Guardians´ Association Nepal, said, “The apex court has rightly pointed out the flaw in the education system in directing the monitoring mechanism to take immediate action.”
Expressing doubt about the intention of government officials to deal with the issue, Bhandari said, “The latest verdict has also paved the way for DoE and DEO to directly scrap the licenses of educational institutions charging fees illegally and flouting government guidelines on textbooks.”
Meanwhile, PABSON Chairman Baburam Pokharel challenged the apex court order on fee hikes at three-year intervals only.
“We will not increase the salaries of the teachers and staff if the SC wants us to stop fee hikes for the next three years,” Pokharel said adding “The SC order cannot stop the price inflation in all sectors.”
Pokharel claimed that the SC order to charge Rs 25 for admission forms and Rs 100 as admission fee would be impossible for them to implement. The amounts would be appropriate for community schools only.
Currently, some private schools charge up to Rs 20,000 as admission fee at primary level though the government has sanctioned a maximum charge of Rs 2,500 even at secondary level.
A report issued by DoE in 2010 found that over 40 percent of private schools and colleges were charging fees above the DoE recommendation.
There are around 10,000 private schools in the country, including 1,300 in the Valley. As per data available at the Higher Secondary Schools Association Nepal, 400 private colleges in the Valley charge Rs 100,000 to 180,000 in fees at the humanities, management and science faculties.
Standing on the SC full verdict issued on Sunday, DoE Director Tek Narayan Pandey warned the private sector to either follow the verdict or pack their bags and try their luck in some other business.
“The apex court has specifically mentioned that private sector education has been cheating students and parents on the pretext of providing quality education,” said Pandey. “DoE can directly scrap the licenses of such institutions, which are flouting DoE and DEO directives on charging fees that are fair and use of textbooks approved by the Curriculum Development Centre.”
Responding to PABSON´s reaction that the SC verdict was impractical, Pandey further said that government offices are all set to implement the order. “It is an order from the apex court... private sector education can try its hand in some other business if it cannot follow the rules.”
A writ petition filed by a group of advocates--Shree Krishna Subedi, Kapil Pokharel and Rabin Subedi -- last year argued that the majority of private schools were defying the law while charging fees and selling non-approved books.
The court on April 29 last year also asked the authorities to give it within the first week of every month a monitoring report on the status of fees charged in private schools and the books taught there.