Instead of implementing law, government uses force to break the padlock to hold entrance testsStudents filing writ against the government demanding implementation of National Medical Education Act.
While the MBBS entrance examinations are due to start on Saturday, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is non-committal to implementing the several reformative measures envisioned in the National Medical Education Act that came into effect in February.
The students have been resorting to demonstration and padlocking at the Institute of Medicine under Tribhuvan University and the Kathmandu University School of Medical Science demanding implementation of the Act, which envisions common entrance exams and 75 percent scholarships in the state-run medical colleges. The Act also requires private medical colleges run with domestic resources to provide 10 percent scholarships and 20 percent by those run with foreign investment.
The ministry, however, used police on Wednesday evening to break the padlocks in an attempt to hold the entrance tests forcibly.
It was prepared to address the agreements with Dr Govinda KC, an orthopaedic surgeon who has staged hunger strikes several times calling for an end to malpractices in the country’s medical education sector. The ministry, however, is not ready to implement the provisions for now, saying that different committees are working to finalise the modalities of implementing the legal provisions.
It has said the different subcommittees under a panel led by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health and Population Upendra Yadav are on the final stage of formulating the criteria for holding the common entrance and enforcing the scholarship provisions. The ministry, therefore, has asked the students to wait until the panels come out with their reports.
“The entrance exams are due to start in a few days, but the government is asking us to wait,” said Anit Sinha, secretary of the struggle committee which is resorting to demonstrations demanding the implementation of the Act, told the Post. The entrance tests for the colleges under Tribhuvan University start on Saturday while the Kathmandu University is preparing to hold the exams in the third week of September.
Two rounds of dialogue between the government representatives and the students’ struggle committee ended inconclusively as the former didn’t commit to addressing the demands. The government representatives said the Ministry of Finance’s consent is necessary for increasing the scholarships as it burdens the state coffers extra, hinting that it can’t be implemented immediately.
“The Act needs to be implemented but challenges remain. The problems will be resolved once the Medical Education Commission becomes operational,” said Hari Lamsal, joint-secretary at the ministry during the dialogue with the students on Wednesday.
The commission hasn’t come into an operation as the appointment of its vice-chair, who is an executive head, is yet to be appointed.
A recommendation committee led by Umesh Prasad Mainali, chairman of the Public Service Commission, has suggested three names for the post of vice-chair. The prime minister will appoint one of the three individuals recommended by the committee.
Sinha said they will file a writ in the Supreme Court in a couple of days as the government doesn’t want to implement the provisions of the law. However, issuing a statement on Wednesday, the ministry asked all the concerned parties to cooperate in conducting the entrance tests.
It has said the medical education sector will be systematised once the commission starts operations. The ministry, however, has not set the deadline for the commission to start works.