Education panel members put pressure on PM’s office to make public its report

2019-05-07

The Kathmandu Post


KATHMANDU, Members of the High-Level National Education Commi-ssion have launched a signature drive to put pressure on the Prime Minister’s Office to make public a report they had prepared and submitted four months ago. 

The commission had submitted the report to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in the presence of Minister for Education, Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokharel on January 15.

The report is meant to provide the basis for formulation of the education policy that fits into the changed political context.

Around four months since the submission of the report, the government is still refusing to make it public despite calls from the stakeholders.

The National Campaign for Education, an umbrella body of around 239 educational organisations, on March 8 made a Right to Information plea for the report to be made public. 

However, the Education Ministry replied a month later that it doesn’t have the report since all the copies were with the PM’s Office.

With decentralisation coming into effect, the education sector, which predominantly was under the jurisdiction of the centre, has now come as a concurrent authority of the federal, 
provincial and local governments. 

The local governments now have the explicit authority on school education.

Susan Acharya, a university professor and educationist, who was involved in preparing the report, said they were surprised to see the government’s refusal to make the report public. 

“Around half of the commission members have already signed the demand paper,” she told the Post. “We are sitting soon to decide when to submit the paper to the government.”

The 25-member commission led by the minister included former education ministers, education experts, representatives of the private education providers and leaders of teacher unions as members.

The commission was formed in August 2018 to recommend the government on the education policies that needed to be embraced as per the spirit of the new constitution. 

The commission has recommended that private schools be converted into “trusts” from companies within 10 years. 

This, according to the commission, would stop the commercialization of education. 

The commission had further recommended that the government facilitate the private sector’s focus on higher education and bring school education gradually under the government’s ambit. 

It also suggested partnership between private and public schools to improve the latter’s quality.

Members of the commission say the government seems to be under pressure from the private schools operators, who have close connections with it, not to make the report public. 

Private schools operators are vocal against the provision to turn them into non-profit institutions within a decade.

“The government will be under pressure to implement the report if it comes into the public domain,” said another member of the commission asking not to be named. “The government is not willing to follow the report while drafting its education policy.”

The Education Ministry is currently working on the education policy and the Federal Education Act.

 Since the report was prepared under Pokharel’s leadership, Acharya says it is a moral question for the government not to implement it.