Private and boarding
schools in the capital are preparing to hike their fees by 38 percent, which
would be more than five times the current price inflation rate of 7 percent. As
many as 700,000 students are expected to be hit by the hike in the coming academic
session that begins mid-April.
The two umbrella organizations of private schools, PABSON and NPABSON, have stood adamant on hiking their fees, said Bechan Kapad, member of the Private School Fee Determination Committee at District Education Office (DEO), Kathmandu.
private schools have been pressuring the committee members to accept their
proposal for a hike by 38 percent," added Kapad, who is on the committee
as Kathmandu chapter chairperson of the Guardians Association of Nepal.
Government officials have been negotiating to bring the hike down to 25 percent, he further said.
The private school organizations, however, claim to have proposed the higher increment rate to meet the government directive to guarantee teacher salaries and facilities at par with those for teachers in government service.
"Most of the schools are hard pressed to maintain a balance between the current inflation rate and the salary and facilities determined by the government," claimed Thakin Gurung, chairperson of PABSON's Kathmandu chapter.
A total of 10,080 private schools are registered in the capital. Of these, the DEO has been able to categorize only 761, including 117 schools in "A" grade, 480 in "B" and 164 as "C".
After last year's increment, the A grade schools have been formally charging Rs 1,700 at primary level, Rs 1,875 at lower secondary and Rs 2,550 in secondary level as monthly fees. However, the schools are often criticized for charging additional amounts as well under various heads, such as computer, lab, library, uniform and extracurriculars.
Following a Supreme Court order to regulate the private institutions, the Department of Education in 2013 endorsed a set of directives which restricted schools from hiking their fees for three years. However, the private sector has been defying the directives fearlessly since day one.
General Secretary of PABSON's central committee, DK Dhungana, claimed that the organization was this time cooperating with the government over salary and facilities for staff and teachers.
"The DoE directive to provide facilities equivalent to that of teachers in government service put some of the schools under risk of collapse, but we are ready to take the risk to meet the criticisms over fee hike," claimed Dhungana.
Meanwhile, the teachers themselves, who have been presented as the main reason behind the proposed steep fee hike, are not convinced by the argument advanced by the private schools.
"Private school claims to guarantee teachers a salary they deserve are baseless," said Hom Kumar Thapa, president of Nepal Institutional School Teachers Union. He also criticized the government for its reluctance to ensure the rights of the more than 150,000 teachers at private schools across the country.