EDITORIAL: School fee row

Most schools in the Kathmandu Valley have already hiked the fees and a dispute has emerged among school operators, parents and student unions, the unions being affiliated to various political parties.

The range of hikes varies from school to school. The parents’ association has expressed dissatisfaction but school managements have defended the hike, citing the increasing price level. The government has seemed helpless on the matter. What should be admitted is that profit motive is the guiding principle of private schools. There is no doubt about it.

Private investors pay interest on the loans they take, pay rent, and meet all expenses incurred in running the schools and they naturally seek to cover their expenses and expect to get a return on their investment.

But the question arises as to how much fee is enough or fair for a particular school to charge – whether there should be some kind of government regulations or not. Should the government regulate the private schools to fix fees and other charges or should they let the schools do what they like regarding these matters? The government has

divided schools into various categories and fixed the maximum fees for each category. And there are certain mechanisms and criteria set up for increasing the fees. But the private schools are often accused, as now, of hiking the fees without respecting the mechanisms and criteria. Too much regulations are not good for any private initiative but too little is also risky from the point few of the population who are to be served by such private initiative.

In the case of private schools, their entrepreneurs are organized but the parents are not organized and their bargaining capacity and staying power in education matters are much weaker.

But the way out of this imbroglio is to ensure a win-win situation for all stakeholders. Those who make the investment should be able to make a profit to keep them going in the future too. But the unorganized parents should not be made to pay much more than the kind of facilities or quality of education their children are being given by the schools.

In this regard, individual schools and parents should be allowed to decide the actual percentage of fee hike, in the presence of representatives of government and school operators’ associations. The necessity of fee increase and the percentage of increase vary from school to school or from academic calendar to calendar. The factors to be taken should be specified, such as the rate of inflation in the country.

Government monitoring should be increased to see whether any school is giving the quality of education and facilities according to the fees it is charging or, in other words, fulfilling its pledges.

Those who fail to do their part of the duty should be liable to punitive action. In the fee hike controversy, the various student unions always interfere, even by padlocking schools, but this should end as it has not helped solved the problem.

Research needed

Police have said that crime rate in the Kathmandu Valley has slightly gone down in the past nine months of the current fiscal year. The number of grave crimes has also gone down compared to the last fiscal. During the nine months’ period a total of 4,491 cognisable incidents of crimes were recorded in the Valley.

Financial and organized crimes appear to have fallen almost by half at 469 as compared to the last fiscal which stood at 748.

However, murder and attempted murder, suicide, social crime, vehicular homicide and critical injuries have witnessed a steep rise. Suicide rate in the Valley seems to be on the rise because of so many factors which needs a comprehensive social research to minimize such trend.

Family tension, family breakdown, failure in professional career, financial crisis and stress can be attributed as the major reasons for suicide that further agonises family members for a long time.

People who are affected by one of those problems can avail psychological counseling from experts, friends and family members to minimise the risk of suicide that is mostly prevalent in urban areas where people lead a stressful and hectic life.