Dr KC lashes at Minister Pokharel for ‘blocking’ bill

- NAYAK PAUDEL, Kathmandu

Sep 29, 2018-

Senior orthopaedic surgeon Dr Govinda KC has demanded resignation of Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokharel after the National Education Bill failed to go through Parliament.

Dr KC, who has long been demanding reformation in the country’s medical education, termed Education Minister Pokharel as the main obstacle to passage of the bill and demanded that he quit the post.

Ill intention of the minister as well as the ruling parties blocked the bill from getting endorsed, said Dr KC at a press meet in Kathmandu on Friday—a day after the second session of the House was prorogued.

On July 26, the government had signed an agreement with Dr KC, avowing to endorse the Bill by incorporating the recommendations of a task force led by Kedar Bhakta Mathema, former vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University. The deal saw the surgeon end his 15th hunger strike, demanding reforms in medical education.

Dr KC told the media on Friday that Minister Pokharel had tried to bargain with him to give up some of his demands in return for the bill’s endorsement.

“An aide to Minister Pokharel asked me to compromise on the provision of the affiliation to technical schools in return for the bill’s endorsement on Thursday,” he said. “The proposal was unacceptable as it is against the agreement reached two months ago.”

The agreement has the provision that allows medical education commission the authority to grant affiliations to nursing colleges, instead of executive council of Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training led by education minister.

The provision was included amid the controversy that the executive council was granting affiliations to nursing colleges without evaluating them.

“Minister Pokharel is trying to blackmail despite the fact that prime minister himself directed to ensure the Bill’s passage,” Dr KC said.

The government introduced the bill in Parliament last month, but failed to move it further.

The Education and Health Committee of the House is studying the bill. It has formed a subcommittee to deliberate on the bill before tabling in Parliament for endorsement.

Along with the affiliation to nursing colleges, a large number of lawmakers from the ruling parties are against the 10-year moratorium on establishing medical colleges inside Kathmandu Valley, one of the major demands of Dr KC.

The bill also provisions 75 percent scholarships in government medical colleges, setting up at least one state-run teaching hospital in each province, and making it mandatory for a medical college to operate a hospital for three years before getting an affiliation to run MBBS courses.

“It is very unfortunate that government is trying to run away from its commitment. I was extremely saddened to learn that the House session ended without endorsing the bill,” said  Mathema, who had played a crucial role in ending the 15th hunger strike of Dr KC two months ago.

Dr KC was also concerned over the lack of action against 43 individuals accused of irregularities in recommending medical colleges for affiliation by the Gauri Bahadur Karki-led committee.

Dr KC had provided a two-month deadline period for action.

“The government has not even formed a task force yet. The President according national award on Vice Chancellor of Tribhuvan University Tirtha Khaniya, one of the 43 accused, shows the government’s real intention,” said Dr KC.

He has warned that he would stage 16th hunger strike as none of his demands have been addressed. He also revealed that he will not provide prior notice to stage the next fast-unto-death strike.

“As our demands are for the betterment of general public, I would never hesitate to stage yet another hunger strike,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister Pokharel has said that the bill could not be endorsed because the Parliament had to focus on passing of the Acts related to fundamental rights.

“We seriously wanted that the bill got endorsed from the present session, but it didn’t happen. I am sure it gets endorsed by the next session,” he told in an annual general convention of Education Journalist Network (EJON) in the Capital on Friday.

Published: 29-09-2018 07:04

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