In an ignominious fashion, some private schools in Biratnagar have been taking commissions from bookstalls after compelling their students to buy books from particular stalls. The wilful coercion by an institution catering to the onerous task of instilling values in the next generation under the guise of a school by forcing pupils, duly paying for their education, to buy textbooks at particular shops in order to mint money on the sly is a first degree treachery. To complicate matters, no action has been taken so far to put an end to it. Schools have begun frisking for suppliers offering wide commission margins before making arrangements with them to ensure that students later purchase all the necessary items from those stalls. It is the prevalence of practices resembling this one that fuels student agitation like the earlier one, which called for an end to certain monopolies exercised by private schools.
It is a pity that resorting to all kinds of irregularities by those involved in a myriad professions has become a way of life in Nepal. It is here that fuel, food and drugs are adulterated. Government offices are often believed to be the breeding grounds for graft practices. The police department has been frequently accused of committing similar sins and so are other government officials in a range of departments. Former ministers are being investigated over allegations of disproportionate appropriation of wealth; high-ranking officials have been found to have forged academic credentials and the list goes on. As if all these were not enough, the education system, a sector associated with the noble cause of propagating the need for laying the foundation for a cleaner society, has itself been rendered a milch cow by many private schools. This presents a clear case for authorities in the educational and administrative firmaments to investigate and put an end to this evil practice. While it is true that unorganised system requiring students to fetch books entirely on their own is but not being cooperative on the part of the schools concerned, leaving the students in the lurch. That the poor students are being swindled in the name of helping them again is not healthy either. Both the schools and the suppliers have to refrain from offering the students a Hobson’s choice when it comes to buying stationery items. Schools should instead lend the government a helping hand in order to attain the Education For All by 2015 goal. But to dwell on a negative practice by depending upon the windfall from gains derived by a shopkeeper through text-book sales exposes the business motive of these “outfits” in all its entirety. The government must do all it can to stop this malpractice.