In a significant and coordinated move, private school organizations have declared their strong opposition to the proposed amendments to the School Education Act, revealing an extensive protest plan that could have far-reaching consequences on the education landscape. The announcement came during a joint press conference on August 8, 2023 where representatives from prominent private school associations, including Private and Boarding Schools' Organization Nepal (PABSON), National Pabson, and Higher Institutions and Secondary Schools' Association Nepal (HISSAN), shared their concerns and outlined a detailed program of action.
The key points of contention raised by the private school organizations include claims that the proposed amendments show bias towards private investment schools, violate constitutional principles, and lack practicality and fairness.
The scheduled program of the protest includes several stages:
- Submission of a memorandum to various government bodies, including the municipality, district administration office, education development and coordination unit, and provincial ministry.
- Protests against the draft bill.
- Engagement and discussions with stakeholders.
- Internal review within respective private school organizations.
- Indefinite closure of schools.
- Parking of school vehicles in public places as part of the protest.
One of the primary objections pertains to a provision within the bill that requires private investment schools to transform their obligations into educational institutions within a five-year timeframe. Private school representatives argue that this provision contradicts the spirit of the constitution and is impractical. They warn that if the bill is passed in its current form, it could lead to the closure of many private investment schools.
Specific Amendments Proposed
In addition to outlining their protest plan, private school organizations have put forth specific amendments they believe would address their concerns and create a more equitable education environment. These amendments include:
- Revising the clause that mandates the transformation of institutional schools into educational groups within five years, with an exception for schools established under existing laws.
- Modifying the fee arrangement clause to align with national standards while allowing local bodies to set fees according to these standards.
- Standardizing the structure of school management committees under the Federal Education Act.
- Advocating for the inclusion of representatives from umbrella organizations of private schools in the National Curriculum Council and Board formation.
- Reformulating provisions related to teacher and staff appointments, wages, and conditions, in alignment with the Labor Act.
- Calling for amendments to government responsibilities to ensure equitable education investment policies, transparent scholarship distribution, and equal opportunities for all students.
Possible Implications and Broader Significance
The private school organizations' decision to initiate such a comprehensive protest strategy underscores the significance of the issues at hand. It highlights the ongoing debates about education policies, and the role of private investment in education.
As the government grapples with responding to the private schools' demands and the potential consequences of their protest, the education sector, parents, and students alike are watching closely to see how this situation evolves and what impact it could have on the broader educational landscape of the country.