Private Schools in Crossroad

Kathmandu - This week concerns regarding private schools pressuring parents to pay fees continued to be covered in media with arguments from both sides. Concerns expressed for schools placed as quarantined facility space by School management Committee Federation also made it in the media through news reports and letters to the editor. Procedure on how SEE results based on internal exams will be published got covered this week. Lack of accessibility to alternative education in rural areas and also to marginalized population in urban area continued to be covered in media. This week it was also reported that TU has decided to get back the land and building inside TU premise which was previously being used for police station to conduct academic programs from now.

Abbreviations: MoEST- Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, KD-Kantipur Daily, THT-  The Himalayan Times, SEE- Secondary Education Examination , TU- Tribhuvan University, KU-Kathmandu University, NOU- Nepal Open University, MoD-Ministry of Defense

 - Child rights activists have shown concern about the establishment of quarantine facilities in schools for long time. During a virtual program the Community School Management Committee Federation demanded removal of quarantine facilities from schools saying that it would have psychological impact on students. Among some 28,000 community schools, 4,000 schools have been used for quarantine facilities and 64 for isolation wards reported the news.  It also reported that some local levels have used the schools even without informing the school management committees and principals. The concerns of parents to send their children to previously quarantine facilitated schools and psychological impacts among children were raised in one of the letters as well.

- An editorial ‘Ethical question to private schools’ and multiple letters to the editor covered issues about private schools forcing parents to pay the fees against the government directive. The COVID-19  pandemic had led to closure of all the private and community school, whereas the news of private schools collecting fees even in the period of lockdown has been covered for weeks in media. MoEST had released press release directing the education institutions not to take fees in the time frame of Covid pandemic lockdown. One of the letters also showed concerns for private schools, not getting any help from the government regarding house rent, bank loans and teacher-employee’s salaries. One letter to the editor stated that the press statement by Association of Private Schools have reestablished public understanding that private schools are primarily a business institution. The letter also stated that private school’s stating that they wont be able to pay salaries of schools staffs is unethical and stated that the investors should take the responsibility of figuring out loans if needed and that the parents and staffs of the schools shouldn’t be the ones taking the burden of the loss in their business.   

-A letter also stated that there are incidents were teachers who reported dissatisfaction about this in social media, where fired by the administration and called on the government to intervene to ensure social security and justice to teachers and staffs of private schools. Student unions of ruling political parties and opposition political parties were reported to have publicly announced calling on parents to not pay the fees to private schools against government procedure. an article had also stated that the fees for online classes shouldn’t be the same as physical classroom learning, and that the fees should be decided only after consultation with the parents.

-National Examination Board approved workplan for certification of SEE students based on previous internally organized examination by schools, which will be validated for 4,82,000 students who had registered for SEE exam this year. Minister’s council meeting had decided to cancel SEE exam this year, stating the most recent internal exams would be the base for SEE results for this year. The strategy board form for building the strategy has stated that the board has approved a procedure to form a evaluation committee at school level who will collect marks of internal exams and publish the results. If internal final term exam wasn’t conducted, than the second term exam results will be regarded as the base for SEE results reported the news.

-It was reported that student leaders representing Nepal Student Union, the student wing of the main opposition Nepali Congress, set fire to the chair of Tribhuvan University and also padlocked the offices of the VC, rector, and registrar of the varsity. NSU leaders had been protesting against the arbitrary appointments of various university officials on the basis of political affiliation with the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and protesting against the varsity’s expenditure of millions of rupees on online classes even though it has not shown eagerness to start such classes.  They also submitted a letter to VC seeking clarification on the ongoing erroneous activities of the university.

- The media continued to report through multiple reports and articles about students with no access to technology in rural and urban areas. Teachers and people's representatives had been given the responsibility to manage the alternative classes started by the government at the local level. The government has also allocated Rs. 250 million for the production, transmission and management of alternative classroom materials during the month of July. An education expert also mentioned that the challenge was added by not trusting the local level and teachers to run alternative class.

Students union taking stand on behalf of parents of private schools is a considerable step taken with common voice between political parties. The absence of parents or guardian of private schools network organizing was realized here. SEE result procedure that has a school level evaluation committee is a right direction forward which can help build a more school level assessment mechanism that can create more trusted relation between the government and schools, thus among teachers and students as well. The bitter truth about operating schools through private structure has been exposed by this pandemic. If the government agencies, local representatives and public schools stakeholders including School Management Committee could take this as an opportunity to build trust for improvement of public schools, this could be a turning point to bring back many parents and students to public schools. This would be a way forward towards a socialist nation vision in-built in our national constitution.

'Education this Week' is a joint effort put to analyze the press coverage of education in Nepal’s selected print media published in Kathmandu. The main aim of this effort is to identify and explain major education issues picked up by the media and give back and foreground of the news. This, we believe, will help policy makers and other responsible people to keep abreast with ongoing concerns and discussions on and around education. EduKhabar, in collaboration with the Center for Educational Policies and Practices (CEPP) , has produced this analysis based on the news printed in Kantipur (Nepali) and The Himalayan Times (English), Dailies between June 24-30, 2020 (Asar 10-16, 2077) - Editor.

Read this analysis in Nepali : बिच बाटोमा निजी विद्यालय

Read last week’s analysis: Education has fallen behind due to weak policy decisions

All analysis read by this link : Education This week