KATHMANDU, April 22: Student unions affiliated to various political parties have announced protests starting Monday against the fee hike by private schools.
“We will hold a meeting on Sunday and decide the forms of protests as the government did not heed our demand to rein in the private schools,” said Pushpa Kumar Shahi, vice president of the Nepal Students' Union. “We will launch protests from Monday. The protests will include sit-ins at the district education offices, and padlocking the accounts section and administration offices of the private schools from Monday,” he added.
The student unions on April 18 had issued a three-day ultimatum to Education Minister Dhani Ram Paudel demanding that the ministry force the private schools to roll back the fee hike.
The student unions are Nepal Students Union, All Nepal National Free Students Union, All Nepal National Independent Students' Union-Revolutionary, Tarai Madhes Students Front, ANNFSU-Sixth, Rastriya Prajatantra Student Union, ANNFSU-Fifth and Naya Shakti Student Union.
Following the three-day ultimatum by the student unions, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has directed the Department of Education and district education offices to look at the fee hike and take strong action against the schools that refuse to withdraw the hike, according to the ministry.
According to the existing rules, private schools violating the law can be fined up to Rs 25,000 and their license revoked. However, the government always makes the same commitment of taking stern action against the violators but it hardly takes any action against them.
Various private schools have arbitrarily increased fees for the new academic session which started on April 14 without taking permission from the concerned authorities.
A new fee structure of private schools must be approved by two-thirds majority of guardians and then the schools must take permission from the Fee Restructuring Committee and the District Education Office (DEO) before increasing the fee.
Five years ago, the Supreme Court had directed the private schools not to increase fees before a lapse of three years. But most of the schools were found to have ignored the court order.
Some schools were found to have increased monthly tuition fees by up to 60 percent and some had charged Rs 1,000 for admission forms. Also, some schools were found to have charged an unspecified annual charge of Rs 60,000 to students promoted to higher classes.
The private schools have also been forcing the students to buy textbooks, exercise books, uniforms and other stationery items from particular shops in order to reap commissions, claimed the office bearers of the Guardians Association Nepal. The association further informed that the students are not provided any discounts in their purchases.
There are more than 5,000 private schools across the country, including over 1,500 in the Kathmandu Valley, according to the organizations of the private schools. Some 1.5 million students are enrolled with these private schools.