Pact to end EST row draws flak

Kathmandu, March 26:

Stakeholders concerned in the education sector today condemned the agreement reached yesterday between the finance ministry and private educational institutions for not consulting all stakeholders before signing the pact.

The government and private educational institutions had signed a 14-point agreement to collect fund from private educational schools for the Education Development Support Fund (EDSF) to support education of children from marginalised communities and remote areas.

With the agreement, the private schools who were protesting against the Education Service Tax (EST) have agreed to pay it in a different form — EDSF.

The agreement has drawn flak from guardians. They said that they could not contribute to the fund because they were already suffering from exorbitant fees charged by the private schools.

Suprabhat Bhandari, president of Guardians’ Association of Nepal, told The Himalayan Times that the agreement was condemnable.

He said, “If we are the ultimate payer of EDSF, we should have been consulted before taking the decision. If the schools are going to pay for the fund from their profit, then we don’t have any problem.” The schools had protested EST, saying that the guardians were the ultimate payers of the tax.

Bhandari said the government was trying to forcefully implement the provision.

“If the government believes in a system, then it must get consent of the Fee Fixation Committee under the Department of Education, where we are also one of the partners, before increasing the fees in schools so as to make contributions to EDSF,” he said.

Ram Kumari Jhakri, ANNFSU president, said the UML student wing would always stand against any kind of fund collection from students or guardians.

Hom Kumar Thapa, president of Institutional School Teachers’ Union, said the government bowed down before the education mafia as it failed to implement EST.