Ed minister against PCL phase-out

KATHMANDU: Minister for Education Ram Chandra Kushbaha today said he was against the Tribhuvan University decision of phasing out Proficiency Certificate Level as the country lacked infrastructure for the post-school education, excluding the country's largest university.

Talking to mediapersons here today, the minister said the TU should discuss the matter with students, rather than phasing out the PCL. "The TU Academic Council is free to take its decision, but not at the cost of thousands of students," the education minister said. "Ministry of Education is a higher authority to decide the fate of students across the country." He said the decision could be justified if the country's higher secondary schools were able to hold the influx of students.

Minister Kushbaha has urged the agitating students and TU officials to hold talks, promising to call them at the table tomorrow.

Prof Dr Madhav Prasad Sharma, Vice Chancellor, TU, however, said the decision would not be revoked at any cost. He said the students' agitation would not cause them to have second thoughts.

Student leaders have been sticking to their idea that the oldest university should conduct the PCL programme until the government ensures accessible and free higher education to all. Pradeep Paudel, president, Nepal Students' Union, demanded that the students be given right alternatives before the phase-out. "The phase-out plan is to encourage privatisation of education and making it accessible only for the rich," he said. "Higher secondary education needs to be made as cheap as the TU programme before the phase-out."

Himal Sharma, general secretary, All Nepal National Independent Students' Union-Revolutionary, said a section of TU officials was in favour of privatisation of education, vowing to free the university of such mafias. "This is a matter of national interest, which the TU cannot decide alone," he added.

Ram Kumari Jhankri, president, All Nepal National Free Students' Union, said the government should take care of the students if the TU failed to do so. "The university, which largely runs on the taxpayers' money, has got some responsibility to the public," she added, warning to move the court of law for the TU decision and its teaching outdated curricula.

Plus Two schools shut indefinitely

KIRTIPUR: All Nepal National Independent Students' Union - Revolutionary today announced to shut down all the Plus Two colleges across the country from tomorrow until Tribhuvan University announces new admission in the Proficiency Certificate Level.

Organising a press conference on the TU premises in Kirtipur, Himal Sharma, ANNISU-R general secretary, said the new form of protest was announced as their previous programmes such as weeklong relay hunger strikes and fast-unto-death had failed to draw the attention of the government to their demand.

"We organised relay hunger strikes last week. Our leaders are observing a fast-onto-death to compel TU authorities to announce the new admissions but no concerned authority has invited us for talks. As a last resort, we have decided to shut the higher secondary schools."

The UCPN-Maoist-affiliated students have threatened to take action against TU officials beginning August 18 and have asked authorities to stay alert and protect themselves from any untoward situation.

Other protest programmes of the agitating students include shutting down Kathmandu valley on August 14, nationwide educational strike on August 17 and Nepal bandh on August 19. They will hold torch rallies on August 13 and 18.

"If our demands remain unfulfilled by August 19, we will announce additional programmes of protest," Sharma declared. — HNS