AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
KATHMANDU: The government said today it was banning secondary schools from using names like ‘Oxbridge’, ‘White House’ and ‘NASA’ over fears that the education system is losing its Nepali culture.
The announcement follows a series of protests by student and youth groups — sometimes violent — outside schools across the country which have chosen foreign names. “We have informed the schools to change their names to Nepali. This is clearly written in the laws but several schools were found violating them,” education ministry spokesman Janardan Nepal told AFP. “They will be given enough time to change the names. But it should not take long,” Nepal added, without specifying a deadline.
Nepal depends on foreign governments and aid agencies for around 25 per cent of its 65-billion-rupee education budget and cash-strapped schools often try to attract funding and pupils with ‘prestigious’ western names.
An estimated 250 secondary schools in Kathmandu are named after European and US historical figures, institutions and places, such as ‘Einstein Academy’ and ‘Pentagon College’.
Last month the United Nations voiced ‘deep concern’ about escalating violence against schools in Nepal and said such acts were endangering children’s lives and jeopardising their right to education.
Student wings of several political factions have been blamed for destroying computers in a Kathmandu college and torching school buses in the Capital, the southern district of Chitwan and eastern city of Dharan.