Private And Boarding Schools’ Organisation Nepal (PABSON), an umbrella organisation of institutional schools, today refused to implement the ‘Institutional School Criteria and Operation Directives-2069’ stating that its 39-point suggestion does not figure in the document.
PABSON accused the government of cheating it while issuing the directives. PABSON said their meeting with the government discussed ensuring quality education, representation of PABSON and other stakeholders in the district education committee, minimum number of student in a class, size of desk benches and other things. Later, it said, the Ministry of Education (MoE) officials issued the directives without incorporating its inputs.
The government had formed a committee with participation of PABSON, NPABSAN, guardians, journalists and other stakeholders to draft the directives meant to regulate institutional schools. After a yearlong discussion and homework, the committee had prepared the directives and handed it over to Education Minister Dina Nath Sharma, who had approved it on February 17. Babu Ram Pokharel, PABSON president, said, “We had asked for our identity demanding a separate Act for the private sector. But the government has tried to tag us as criminals by issuing directives with every point talking of action to be taken against us.”
He said, “The government has brought the directives to discourage the private sector that has been providing quality education in the country.”
Pokharel pointed that out of total students, 24 per cent students are from the private sector.
Private schools have been providing jobs to 100,000 teachers and employees investing around Rs 10 billion in the education sector to provide quality education, he noted, accusing the government of not recognising the role they have played. “Eighty per cent of small and medium schools will shut down if the directives is implemented because the directives has certain criteria for physical infrastructure such as desk bench, number of doors and windows in school classrooms. It is next to impossible to adhere to such criteria in already-constructed buildings.”
What does the rulebook have?
According to the directives, schools should have a big playground to accommodate students during play time and assemblies.
The rule book envisages quality food in hostel and food quality testing at least once a month. It opposes sale of books and stationery items on school premises, envisages one library for 500 students and no more than two school uniforms. It stipulates having representatives from Private and Boarding Schools Organisation Nepal and National Private and Boarding Schools Association Nepal as invitee members in District Education Committee. It suggests merging two or more schools, if need be.
Govt refuses to budge
Despite school organisations’ objection, the government is bent on implementing the directives. Tek Narayan Panday, director, Department of Education and coordinator of the committee that drafted the directives, refuted the school bodies’ allegations. He said, “We held rounds of meeting before issuing the directives and addressed all of their concerns.”
He stated leadership of the PABSON and NPABSON might have come under pressure from subordinates, so they are opposing the directives. Panday said they have sent circulars to the districts to implement the directives from the new academic session.
Guardians’ body takes exception
]The Guardians’ Association of Nepal (GAN) on Monday hoisted a black flag on the premises of the PABSON central office protesting the latter’s objection to the ‘Institutional School Criteria and Operation Directives 2069’. Suprabhat Bhandari, GAN president, said it is inappropriate on the part of the main stakeholder to publicly speak against the directives. “Defying the directives, which stakeholders, including PABSON, prepared, means defying the government, guardians and students,” Bhandari said. GAN gave PABSON a seven days to retract its objection in the interest of students and the country, warming of fresh protests otherwise.