MBBS students protest in Maitighar after colleges refuse to pay heed to their concernsAfter weeks of pressure, Chitwan Medical College agrees to refund the extra amount it had charged; Gandaki Medical College yet to agree
With no steps from the government towards addressing the concerns of medical students protesting in different parts of the country, Dr Govinda KC, a senior orthopaedic surgeon who has been fighting against malpractices in the medical education sector, on Saturday took to the streets together with the students to put pressure on the government.
The MBBS students from Chitwan Medical College in Bharatpur and Gandaki Medical College, Pokhara have been staging protests for more than two weeks demanding that colleges refund the amount that they have charged from students on top of the fee determined by the government
Teaching-learning activities in Chitwan Medical College have been disrupted for more than two weeks while classes have been obstructed in Gandaki Medical College for the last eight days.
The government in October last year had set Rs3.8 million for private colleges in the Kathmandu Valley and Rs4.24 million for those outside the Valley for MBBS course. However, colleges have charged up to Rs6 million. Though the students have been resorting to demonstrations daily, the government authority is using force against them instead of taking action against the colleges.
“The government is working at the behest of medical colleges. No pro-people government would have thrashed students instead of working against the medical mafia,” Dr KC told the media in Maitighar on Saturday. KC, who has staged hunger strikes several times calling for an end to malpractices in Nepal’s medical education sector, warned of a stern protest if students’ demands are not addressed immediately.
Following student's protest earlier this year, the Ministry of Education in April had directed medical schools to refund the additional amount they had charged.
But the medical colleges refused to oblige, the ministry did not follow up on its directives.
“The government entities are shirking their responsibilities by pointing fingers at others,” Anit Singha, a third-year MBBS student at Gandaki Medical College, who is also the general secretary of Medical Students’ Struggle Committee, told the Post.
MBBS students say officials at the Education Ministry point fingers at the university while those in university say the issue now will be dealt with by the National Medical Commission, which is yet to start functioning in a full-fledged manner.
The newly appointed Vice-chairman of the commission Dr Shree Krishna Giri said universities are primarily responsible to execute the fee ceilings.
“Our attention has been drawn to the matter. However, we expect the respective universities to act to address the concerns of the students,” Giri told the Post.
Giri said as it has hardly been a couple of days since he assumed office and appointment of his team members is yet to be completed, it will take some time for the commission to start its job.
According to the agitating students, the college operators had been avoiding the meetings with the students.
After over two weeks of protest, the Chitwan Medical College on Saturday agreed to return the additional fee it had charged.
Him Raj Budhathoki, a final year MBBS student from Chitwan Medical College, said the college owner, who had been avoiding the meeting for two weeks, sat for the dialogue on Saturday following pressure from the students.
“Had the government supported the students’ genuine demands, the problem would have been resolved earlier without,” Budhathoki told the Post.
Officials of Gandaki Medical College have agreed to sit for a dialogue on Monday.
Though the Education and Health Committee of Parliament had formed a sub-committee to study the matter and probe if there were any wrongdoings on the part of the medical colleges, its recommendations were in favour of colleges.
Instead of recommending action against college operators, it recommended increasing MBBS quotas for medical colleges. It also blamed students and their parents for paying the amount as demanded by colleges instead of resisting.
It had concluded that officials at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Tribhuvan University and Kathmandu University should be booked for failing to regulate them.