Education policy not following constitutional provision

Kathmandu, December 21

The recently released National Education Policy 2019 has drawn controversies as it contradicts the provision of the country’s constitution.

While the constitution states that every student should have the right to free education up to Grade XII both in private and public schools, the policy envisions provision of free education only for public school students up to Grade VIII.

“The education policy is not in accordance with the constitution. Education should be free for all up to Grade XII,” said educationist Mana Prasad Wagle.

The education policy states that secondary education rights are given to the central government. The responsibility of basic education is given to the local levels. “The monitoring of school level education should be done by local levels as it will be easier to report problems,” said Kedar Bhakta Mathema, an educationist.

The current policy has given top priority to security of private schools. The provisions make education service-oriented by ensuring security, protection and promotion of private sector in education, while requiring individual investors, companies, corporate houses, banks and financial institutions to bear corporate social responsibility.

“There should not be any commercialisation of schools. They should be service-oriented,” added Mathema.

It is said that private schools run in the form of companies will be regulated. The policy has not said anything about schools run under education guthi — both in terms of monitoring and regulation.

The current education policy states that subject teachers will be appointed within five years. “Teachers should be appointed immediately to provide quality education,” said Mathema.

“Many students drop out from public schools as they lack quality education because they lack subject teachers,” added Wagle.

The policy states that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education will be made important part of the entire education system, which will be extended and developed.

“These two provisions are contradictory. When the government itself is appointing subject teachers within five years, how can it develop the science, technology, engineering and mathematics education? The infrastructure — both trained human resources and physical infrastructure such as laboratories must be constructed if we are to improve education. Also, the government should first ensure investment,” added Wagle.

“The policies should not contradict the constitution. If policy contradicts the constitution it will become illegal. Such contradictory laws are made to fulfil vested interests and give away control of the sector. People should challenge it. Anyone can file a writ petition against it. The court can invalidate it,” said Sunil Ranjan Singh, an advocate.

“We are not moving towards socialism. It is fostering private schools and helping them earn money. What the government should do instead is provide equal opportunity to all for quality education,” said Mathema.