‘Free’ education not so free, says OAG report

- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

Apr 14, 2015-

The government’s commitment to free education at the basic level has fallen flat as public schools have been found charging students hundreds of rupees in tuition fees.

The Auditor General’s report made public on Sunday shows that state-run schools have been charging up to Rs7,000 annually from each student in grades up to eight. They have been raising money claiming that budget from the government is inadequate to manage “competent human resource” and setting up infrastructure. The fee is higher in schools that have adopted English as the medium of instruction.

A detailed study carried out by the AG’s Office in five districts found schools in Palpa charging the highest—between Rs4,000 and Rs7,000—while those from Makwanpur raised fees between Rs50 and Rs1,500 annually. Public schools in Jhapa charged up to Rs600 while the schools in Kailali charged the least—between Rs60 and Rs80.

The schools have breached the law which should be stopped immediately, the report said. Rule 147 (6) of the Education Regulations (2002) has ensured free basic education up to the eighth grade and barred schools from charging any fees from students. The report also showed that only about 45 percent students get their free textbooks on time while 5.05 percent do not get them at all.

The study also found a number of irregularities in the school sector as the District Education Offices and Resource Persons never monitor a majority of schools. There was no monitoring from the DEO in 56 percent of the schools that were studied while the Resource Persons never inspected 44 percent schools. The government has appointed hundreds of Resource Persons and School Inspectors to monitor and recommend action to the DEOs.

“The lack of monitoring and inspection is largely responsible for the deteriorating quality of education in public schools. The concerned authorities should take proper measures to check this,” said the report.

A recent report from the Education Review Office of the Education Ministry showed that the learning achievement of students is degrading every year. The study conducted among 44,067 students from 28 districts showed the average learning achievement of the students is 48 percent in Nepali, 35 percent in Mathematics and 41 percent in Science.

Published: 15-04-2015 08:30

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