Private school operators decry local governments’ enrolment rule


The Kathmandu Post

KATHMANDU,  Two umbrella bodies of private schools, which usually stand poles apart, have come together to condemn the move of many local governments to make it mandatory for those who hold public offices to enrol their children in public schools.

Private school operators claim that the move besides discrediting their contribution in delivering quality education to thousands of children is also against the right to freedom as enshrined in the Constitution of Nepal.

In a joint statement, the Private and Boarding Schools’ Organisation Nepal and National Private and Boarding Schools Association have warned that the ‘impractical move’ could result in an outflow of students abroad.

Local governments believe the move will increase the accountability of stakeholders, boost teachers’ morale and pressure civil servants and local leaders to improve the quality of public schools that is deteriorating by the day. 

Many local governments had issued circulars—ahead of the new academic session that began two weeks ago—saying that it is now mandatory that the public school teachers, government employees and elected representatives must enrol their children in public schools.

Ratnanagar Municipality in Chitwan, Chaubise Rural Municipality in Dhankuta and Parbat based Jaljala Rural Municipality, among others, have already enforced the rule starting this year.

Private schools operators, however, have taken this latest move by local governments as an attack against them, claiming that the move will affect some 200,000 jobs and investments worth billions of rupees and also hurt the state’s coffers.

“The trend of students going abroad for school education has stopped with our strong presence. We have saved capital flight worth billions,” said Ritu Raj Sapkota, chairperson of the National Pabsan. 

Private school owners claim their numbers stand at 10,000 while government data puts it at around 8,000. Around 17 percent of 7 million school-going children in the country are enrolled in private schools.

“Local governments have tried to curtail the freedom of the people. The move will not help improve the quality in the public schools,” reads the statement. 

Government records show the quality of school education has decreased in recent years rather than improving. 

A comprehensive research conducted last year by the Education Review Office under the Ministry of Education showed the performance levels of eighth graders had dropped considerably in 2017 compared to 2013.