Getting a room in Ilam Bazaar, the district headquarters of Ilam, these days is as difficult as it is in Katmandu. The rent is also high, almost equal to that of Kathmandu.
In the past, government employees and the students of Mahendra Ratna Multiple Campus used to live in rented rooms in Ilam Bazzar. However, in the recent years, the number of students in the government college has decreased significantly with the opening of 10+2 colleges and campuses in the villages and scrapping of the certificate level from the TU campuses. And with them, the demand for flats and rooms are high in the beautiful town surrounded by tea gardens and green hills.
The town has expanded to a great extent in recent years with new houses sprouting everywhere. Still rooms are not easily available largely because of the growing trend among guardians to send their wards to private schools, more popularly called boarding schools.
These days, young mothers of children can hardly be found in the villages. They stay in the district headquarters with their children because almost all parents who can afford to pay the rent and school fees choose to send their wards to boarding schools.
Public school teachers, businessmen, activists of political parties and the rich farmers send their wards to boarding schools. Even the headmasters of public schools are among them. As a result, most of the public schools of the towns and cities have become schools for domestic help. The unchecked inflow of young students with a parent each from the villages to the town has, obviously, resulted in a shortage of living space in Ilam Bazaar.
Indeed, it is a big irony that the teachers of the government schools do not want to admit their wards in their own schools not only in Ilam but in the other districts as well. This indicates what they think of education in the government schools.
At a time when the popularity of private boarding schools is growing immensely among parents of all classes, voices are being raised again against private schools. Recently, a group of students affiliated to the ruling UCPN-Maoist met Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and urged him to prevent the government employees, party leaders and school teachers from sending their wards to private boarding schools.
Even if the government introduces such a provision, it looks unlikely that it will ever be implemented. Even the Maoist leaders are not ready to send their wards to public schools unless drastic reforms are introduced in the public schools.
Of course, the love for English is one of the main reasons why many guardians want to admit their wards in private schools. In public schools, the medium of instruction is Nepali, and it is not easy to change the medium of instruction keeping in mind the academic background of the public school teachers.
Also the teachers in the public schools are not disciplined. In recent years, pubic schools have turned into recruitment centres for the cadres of the ruling parties. Thus, unless a powerful and independent teachers service commission is formed, pubic schools will not have quality manpower, and many guardians will not send their wards there.
(Source: The Rising Nepal)