Private school operators object to Education Commission’s report

- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu
School owners claim attempts to displace private schools will ultimately destroy the country’s education system entirely

Jan 1, 2019-

The preliminary recommendation of the High Level National Education Commission that private schools be turned into trusts eventually has taken flak from their operators, who suspect that the move will eliminate them from the education sector.

In its recommendation, the commission, comprised of experts from the education and legal fields, has concluded that the operation of private schools in the present form will go against the spirit of the constitution.

The report recommends that private schools, running under the Company Act, should be converted into trusts within seven years. Such transformation, according to members of the commission, will orient them on service, in a shift from their present motive for profit.

Shyam Shrestha, a member of the commission, said the suggestions were based on Article 31 (2) of the constitution, which says the state should ensure free and compulsory basic education and free secondary education for all. He said allowing private schools to operate in the current fashion would defy the constitutional provision.

Private school operators, however, say it is a wrong interpretation that the Constitution of Nepal gives no space for private schools to operate in their current form. They argue that the hidden motive to compel private schools to convert into trusts is to close them.

Shanta Dixit, director of Rato Bangla School, said parents’ right to choose the kind of education they want for their children can’t be curtailed on any pretext.

“We believe that constitutional provisions have been misinterpreted to attack private schools,” she said at an interaction on Sunday. “The commission cannot direct private schools to convert into trust.”

The commission, which is giving the report its final shape, is likely to submit the document to the government on Friday. If endorsed, the recommendations will set the basis for formulating a policy that guides the country’s education system.

Geeta Rana, former chairperson of the National Private and Boarding Schools’ Association, Nepal, said the government has always tried to attack private schools on various pretexts. The new move was yet another episode to discourage them, she charged.

School owners claimed that attempts to displace private schools will ultimately destroy the country’s education system entirely. They warn that thousands of children would be deprived of their right to quality education if the recommendations were implemented. Those operating private schools claim that they don’t just provide quality education but stop billions of rupees from going abroad in the name of education.

Rana claimed that the commission has failed to read the spirit of Article 51 (h) of the charter which recognises private investment in education. The Article says that investment from the private sector will be made service-oriented through regulation.

Shrestha, however, said the very provision was taken into consideration while drafting the commendations.

“I was an active member of the constitution drafting process. Therefore, I know its spirit very well. Those blaming the commission for wrongly interpreting the constitution are trying to create an illusion,” he told the Post.

“Our report promotes service-oriented schools. The problem is only for those whose sole motive is earning profits.”

Shrestha added that a majority of their recommendations were aimed at uplifting the quality of education in public schools.

Published: 01-01-2019 06:40

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