KATHMANDU, July 22: Privately-run higher secondary schools across the country were shut down Sunday on the first day of a two-day strike called by the All Nepal National Independent Student Union-Revolutionary (ANNISU-R) affiliated to the Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist demanding free education till 12th grade, "scientific" fee structure and shutdown of unregistered schools among others.
The Maoist students, who vandalized two private colleges and a vehicle of another school in the Valley last Monday without any prior warning on the charge of using foreign names and high tuition fees, have called the two-day shutdown in what they called the second stage of their protest. “We have called a peaceful strike in the second stage but we will be forced to go for tougher third stage if our demands are not met soon,” Coordinator of Baidya affiliated ANNISU-R Sharad Rasaily said.
Rasaily said most of the demands were addressed in the 13-point agreement with the Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) reached in February 2010 but have not been implemented due to government apathy. He said ANNISU-R will hold meeting with Nepali Congress-affiliated Nepal Students Union (NSU), CPN-UML-affiliated All Nepal National Free Students Union (ANNFSU) and others -- who recently smeared soot on the hoarding boards of Everest Florida, NASA college, Himalayan White House College and Columbus College for using foreign names -- on Monday to decide about the next stage of protest if the demands are not met.
Chairman of Higher Secondary Schools Association (HISSAN) Umesh Shrestha said most of the demands put forth by the agitating students should be addressed by HSEB and the Ministry of Education. “We contacted the student leaders but they said that we cannot address all of their demands and told us that they will sit for dialogue only after the government invites. But sadly the government seems to be negligent about the issue and have not called the students for dialogue,” Shrestha stated. Vice-chairman of HSEB Hem Kumar Mishra said HSEB will soon call the agitating students for dialogue to resolve the issue.