In education, Kathmandu wants to hold sway over local governments

- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

Feb 3, 2019-

Over a year has passed since the country embarked on the journey of federalism with elected governments taking charge, but the central government is still taking steps—one after another—to continue its presence and dominance felt at the local level, mainly in the education sector.

The federal government which in the last week of December had asked the local level to not formulate any laws related to education without its consent now has

decided to continue its subordinate bodies in districts in the name of Education Development and Coordination Unit.

The units which were reduced to small departments under District Administration Offices after local governments came into existence now have been revived as subordinate bodies of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology—similar to that of pre-election period.

Though local governments bear constitutional authority to take every decision regarding school education, the recent steps of the federal government showcase its intention to continue its presence in the school education.

A writ has already been filed at the Supreme Court challenging the federal government’s direction to halt the law formulation of the laws. The case is sub judice at present.

The units, say officials at the ministry, are necessary to liaison between the federal and the local governments in implementing and coordinating a number of projects implemented by the federal government which includes the multi-billion rupees School Sector Development Plan. “Similarly, record keeping of teachers, conduction of Secondary Education Examination and grade 11 and 12 examination also demanded their continuation,” said Bishnu Prasad Mishra, assistant spokesperson at the Education Ministry.

The leaders of the local governments, however, take this as an encroachment upon their authority. They claim the federal government with its moves is trying to continue its dominance that it has practised for decades.

“This is a reflection of the centralised mindset the federal government and its bureaucracy has,” Chiribabu Maharjan, mayor of Lalitpur Metropolitan City, told the Post. “This is against the spirit of the constitution; it’s unacceptable.”

Schedule 8 of the Constitution of Nepal gives the local governments explicit authority to manage school education. This means the local governments are free to hire and fire teachers, develop curriculum and hold examinations till grade 12.

Maharjan said they are preparing to discuss the issue in the forum which comprises 18 mayors from the Capital and raise the issue with the federal government based on the outcome. Maharjan claims the federal government is working with the wrong mindset that the local are not capable of managing school education, which is gradually being portrayed through its different controversial moves.

“I want to remind that the constitution accords equal status to all three tiers of governments. The federal government, therefore, needs to get rid of its superior mindset,” he told the Post.

Published: 03-02-2019 10:29

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