Private schools say they can’t chip in to government’s social security plan


The Kathmandu Post

- BINOD GHIMIRE- KATHMANDU, Private schools have refused to follow the Contribution Based Social Security Scheme launched by the government in November last year, arguing that the programme is not feasible for small and middle level schools. 

The representatives of Private and Boarding School Organisation Nepal, who are gathered in the Capital for the 14th general convention, voiced their reservations against the scheme on Tuesday. According to the government estimates, 3.5 million people will benefit from the scheme, under which a sum equivalent to 31 percent of the workers’ basic monthly salary-11 percent deducted from their monthly wage and 20 percent contributed by their employers-will go to the Social Security Fund. 

Private schools, however, say that they just cannot afford to chip in to support the scheme, as envisaged by the government to offer old-age pension, health coverage, accident indemnity and disability compensation to private sector workers. 

“Many challenges have come before us, some of them have threatened our very existence. We have to stand united to combat these challenges,” said Tika Ram Puri, who is running for the post of PABSON chairperson. 
The umbrella body of private schools in the country has also opposed the recommendation of the High Level National Education Commission to convert private schools into non-for-profit institutions by changing their registration from company into a guthi (trust). They have announced that they will pull out all the stops to continue their operation as companies.

The organisation has also demanded that the government amend the Free and Compulsory Education Act that makes it mandatory for schools with 500 students to reserve 10 percent of their seats for scholarship, 12 percent for schools with up to 800 students, and 15 percent for schools with more than 800 students. 

“We shall fight until the legal provisions that are targeted to weak private schools are revised,” Puri said.The 14th PABSON general convention, which kicked off on Tuesday, will conclude on Thursday after electing its central working committee for the next three years.

Addressing the inaugural session of the convention, Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokharel urged the private schools operators to shift their focus towards higher education. He said that the school-level education should be brought under the ambit of the government. 

“The constitution envisions promoting public education and strong monitoring and systematisation of private schools. Education is a service sector unlike profit making institutions.” DK Dhungana, another PABSON chairman aspirant,expressed his reservation on a slew of laws introduced by the government  to “hurt private education providers.”