KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 15
Stakeholders have objected to the government’s move of issuing revised ‘Student Learning Facilitation Guideline- 2020’, which paves the way for private schools to collect fees from students for virtual classes that have been held even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They held that the provisions stated in the guideline were in contravention of the constitution, which guarantees free education up to grade XII. “Allowing the schools to collect fees from students during closure of schools is not the right decision,” they said.
Speaking at a webinar organised by the Education Journalists Group today, the stakeholders urged the government to take responsibility for payment of salary to the teachers of private schools, while prohibiting them to collect fees from students under the pretext of virtual class. “The government needs to focus on providing internet access and teaching-learning materials to schools and students instead of worrying about charging fees,” former education minister and Nepali Congress leader Arjun Narasingha KC said. He suggested the government provide subsidy to private schools to exempt the students from monthly tuition fee for online class.
“If there is no option other than to collect fees from students, the amount should not exceed 60 per cent of the monthly fee,” KC added.
The guideline issued by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology last week had recognised virtual teaching-learning activities being conducted by the private schools. The guideline reads, “Fee allowed to be collected by the schools shall be as approved by concerned local levels, subject to the prevailing law.” It is mum about the percentage of fee chargeable by private schools. The guideline bars private schools from determining and collecting fee without approval of the concerned local levels. Earlier, MoEST had directed private schools not to charge any fee on students for online classes being conducted by them.
“It requires the government to make teachers and students technology-friendly before recognising virtual class,” KC suggested. Former education minister and Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leader Gangalal Tuladhar questioned the intention of the government in taking more than eight months to issue the guideline. “The provision of allowing private schools to collect fee without classification of schools and determination of threshold has paved the way for them to collect fee on their own,” he said. “Though schools are operated under local levels, there is no consistency in fee structure. It is different from one local level to another,” Tuladhar added.
Gomadevi Acharya, deputy mayor of Butwal Metropolitan City, said a committee led by her had started working on fixation of fee for private schools for virtual class. “Previous fee structure, problems facing private schools, and condition of teachers and guardians are among criteria the metropolis will consider for fixation of fee,” she said.
DK Dhungana, co-chair of Private and Boarding Schools Organisation-Nepal, said private schools would charge fee only for facilities they were providing to students.
“No amount will be included for the library, laboratory, vehicle and mid-day meal,” he said.
Educationist Bishnu Karki appealed to all to find a solution, which protects the interest of school, teachers and guardians without bias.
Feature image: File
A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 16, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.