KATHMANDU, March 30: As in previous years, private schools have hiked their fees, up to 30 percent this time, breaching the rules set down by the government.
There are nearly 6,000 private schools in the country and about five times as many public schools, according to private school organizations.
The new academic session for the both public and private schools is beginning from April 14. The schools have already started admissions for the new academic session.
Guardians are worried about the increased fee structure, as this would add to their financial burden.
Keshav Puri, president of the Guardians' Association Nepal (GAN), said up to Rs 40,000 monthly is charged by private schools in Kathmandu Valley. "Adding to our woes, the private schools have increased the fees up to 30 percent for the coming session," he said. "Around Rs 10,000 has been charged as re-admission fees, which is against the rules."
The Fee Restructuring Directive 2013 requires schools to increase their fees only with the approval of the district education office. Moreover, the Supreme Court directed private schools about three years ago not to review the fee scale at less than three year intervals.
"But the private schools, which hiked the fees up to 60 percent last year, have increased them again," said Puri. "They additionally charge annual fees under different heads. They have milked the guardians like cash cows and the government has failed to do anything."
"The government is a mute spectator as the federal scheme has handed over major responsibilities to the local bodies, which in turn are reluctant to address such concerns," said Puri. "And private schools have been taking advantage of this lax situation."
According to GAN, private schools including even Rato Bangla, Little Angels, Galaxy Public and Matribhumi have increased their fees to their own liking.
However, Bijaya Sambahamphe, president of the Private and Boarding Schools Organization Nepal (PABSON), said that private schools increase their fees every year because of inflation . "The fee hike by 30 percent is not true. We have asked the schools to propose their free structure to the authorities concerned," he said, "Schools should be able to justify increased fees."
"But increasing the fees every year is unavoidable as government rules on fee structure are impractical," Sambahamphe added. "We would have to shut down the schools if we abide by the existing rules," he continued. "We have to determine the fees as per the facilities and the needs of the schools. If the guardians are happy to pay, there is nothing wrong in charging them more."
According to the Education Ministry, schools violating the law can be subjected to action, including up to termination of their government license. However, the laws exist only on paper.
Meanwhile, Minister for Education Giriraj Mani Pokharel told Republica that he would study the problem and take necessary action.