Depriving Children’s Rights to Education in Nepal
By Conflict Study Center
Contributed by Dr. Bishnu Pathak and Chitra Niraula. Assisted by Shankar Poudyal, Rushma Shakya and Prem Prasad Pathak. (Source: Media Monitoring and Field Observation)
Today, Kathmandu is closed down again. No vehicles are running, no shops are open and no business is operating. People are scurrying hurriedly on their feet to their destinations for fear of mis-happenings. The smoke of the burning tires in crossroads has choked the neighborhood. In many places, not only public and private vehicles, but also ambulances have been stopped.
Factor for the closure
On May 25, 2007, Educational Republic Forum (ERF) that is close to Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and Institutional School Teacher’s Union (ISTU) organized a sit-in at the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) on the eight day of the strike of all public and private educational institutions at and below Secondary level. Police charged with baton and fired tear gas, where more than 76 people were injured. Many have severe wounds in the head and many others have fractured hands and legs. Protesting the brutal treatment to them, they called for transport strike within Kathmandu from the afternoon. This has further aggravated the environment for talks.
Schools-8,500 (Private) 27,500 (Public)
Students-1,500,000 (Private) 63,00,000 (Public)
Teachers/Staffs-150,000 (Private) 600,000 (Public)
On May 26, 2007, ERF and All Nepal National Independent Students’ Union (Revolutionary), Maoist Student’s Wing, demanded for a public apology from the Education Minister Pradip Nepal for his order to inhuman and cruel treatment and abuse to the demonstrators, and compensate expenses for medical treatment to the injured. Almost 7.8 million students across the country have been affected by the strike. Both the organizations had jointly organized rallies, processions and meetings throughout the country, and called for an indefinite strike. Their original principal demands were: all the agreements done by earlier governments should be immediately implemented; and the private schoolteachers and staffs should be availed remuneration and facilities equal to the civil service.
• Educational sector has been a wrestling ground of political parties.
• Significant differences exist in private and public schools in terms of policies, strategies, curriculum, etc.
• The private schools charge high admission fees annually and monthly fees compared to public in the name of better education. Similarly, there are discrepancies concerning fees in different private schools.
• The salaries and benefits to teaching and non-teaching staffs of private is less compared to public; whereas there is discrepancies amongst private schools in these regard too.
• Textbooks are not available in the remote areas on time.
• Many public school teachers have not been availed permanency albeit their long services (some even more than 20 years) so that their occupation is not secure.
• Civil Servants and officials along with public school teachers send their children to private schools. The leaders of political parties and senior bureaucrats send their children to schools abroad. Whereas, they are the prime investors and investing heavily on the private schools.
• Education although a foundation to economic, physical, social and cultural phenomena, has been less prioritized in the government policies, plans and programs. The agendas included in the programs are not implemented on time.
• The MoES in drowned in corruption and commission.
• The Asian Development Bank and World Bank have been imposing educational reforms that are not compatible in Nepali perspectives.
• No educational materials developed by the government on mother tongue for the ethnicities and nationalities despite of government’s repeated commitments.
• Illiterate parents/guardians also have ‘inkling’ towards English and send their children to private schools.
• Discrimination: The children of the rich families study in rich private and better schools and become doctors and engineers, whereas those from the poor families are bound to study in poor public schools to become their workers.
• Parents impose their wishes on the children while selecting the subjects or schools.
• There is no forum to share and discuss the issues relating to education among students, teachers and parents.
• The Nepali media has not given due response to this critical issue, but exclusive coverage on politics.
• Priority to money, muscle and mafia instead of mind. Continue reading