Idea came from private schools: Khatiwada 

Education Minister Pokharel says he had no clue about it 

Kathmandu, June 1

Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada today said the proposal to make each private school responsible for improving education quality of at least one public school was brought in consensus with the private school owners.

Minister Khatiwada said this while answering questions raised by lawmakers during a deliberation on the budget for the fiscal year 2020-21.

“It’s our (government’s) responsibility to improve quality of education as we are committed to ensuring free and compulsory education up to secondary level. But, since private schools gave us a commitment to support our cause under their corporate social responsibility, we had included the new provision,” Finance Minister Khatiwada said in the Parliament.

Point number 166 of the budget has a provision to make private schools responsible to improve the quality of public schools. This new programme has received widespread criticism from stakeholders, especially, private school owners. Even Minister of Education, Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokharel is not happy with this provision.

Minister Pokharel, issuing a statement yesterday, expressed dissatisfaction with the programme and said that his ministry was not responsible for including such a provision in the budget. He had said that it would not be wise to give the responsibility of public schools to private schools. “It would have been better, if a separate fund had been created for improvement of public school and private schools were also asked to contribute to the fund,”

Minister Pokharel said in the statement. Speaking in the House today, he, however, said that improving quality of education of public schools was the common responsibility of all the stakeholders.

Replying to questions, Minister Khatiwada further said, “We do not intend to hand over public schools to private school owners. We just tried to take the help offered by private school owners.”

Currently, there are around 6,000 private schools and 29,000 community schools across the country.

Meanwhile, the Private and Boarding School Organisation of Nepal, said that only limited ‘A’ graded schools can take up such tasks, that too, through the public-private partnership scheme.

PABSON Chair Tikaram Puri told THT over phone, “The plan is not that bad after all. But, all private schools are not capable of undertaking such responsibility.” He suggested that the government should have clearly mentioned that ‘A’ grade schools were required to take the responsibility of improving quality of public schools.

He also said that all private schools were not required to take responsibility under corporate social responsibility as all private schools were already providing full scholarship for 10 to 15 per cent of total students studying in private schools. Refuting Minister Khatiwada’s claim that private schools suggested that they be included in the new programme, he said no such talks were held between them and the government.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 02, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.