After a long wait, the Ministry of Education and Sports is finally preparing to hold a series of dialogue with the disgruntled student bodies and teachers’ associations. Eight student unions have submitted a memorandum demanding fulfilment of their 16-point charter of educational demands, which, among other things, include providing free education up to the secondary level and more funds for public schools. The pupils of Mahendra Sanskrit University, in particular, have urged the Ministry to form a high-level committee to investigate the alleged financial embezzlement in the university since 1991.
No doubt, the education sector, currently characterised by mismanagement and lack of sound policies, is in dire need of reforms and visionary guidance. In that line, the students’ demand to end all political interference while making appointments in the autonomous institutions and to take action against those teachers working with fake academic certificates do make sense. The government just cannot ignore such valid points if it is serious about cleansing the education system once and for all. However, not all demands are practical. Introducing same curriculum in both the private and public schools or persuading officials to send their children to government schools, for instance, are some points that are not so easy to put into practice. Imposition of any kind of policy on the citizens is unacceptable in a democratic society. Since the process of addressing the grievances has already started, the two negotiating sides should maintain flexibility and arrive mutually at conclusions that can make the desired difference.