Teachers demand that private schools be converted into trustsAn education commission has recommended that the government convert all private schools from companies to trusts in order to prevent commercialisation.
An association of private school teachers has demanded that all private schools convert themselves into trusts, as envisioned by the High-level National Education Commission.
A report by the commission, submitted to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in mid-January last year, had recommended that the government convert all private schools into trusts from companies over the next 10 years.
The report, which was supposed to set a base for the education policy and a Federal Education Act, has not yet been published, as private schools have opposed it. The education policy endorsed by the Cabinet in November doesn’t mention converting private schools from companies to trusts either. Currently, most privately operated schools are registered as companies. The commission had concluded that changing the ownership model from company to trust could stop commercialisation of private schools.
However, the government, neither in the education policy nor the draft Federal Education Bill, has made the conversion compulsory. The Institutional School Teachers’ Association, an association of teachers working with the private schools, has warned of protests if its demands are not met.
“We want the government to follow the recommendations of the commission,” Hom Kumar Thapa, chairperson of the association, told the Post. “It is high time the over-commercialisation of education is stopped, and converting schools into trusts is the only way forward.”
Owners of educational institutions registered as companies can make personal use of the profits. But this is not the case if they are registered as trusts.
The association has said that allowing private schools to operate in the way they are currently operating is against the spirit of free and compulsory school education as envisioned by the Constitution of Nepal. Article 31(2) of the constitution holds the state responsible for ensuring compulsory basic education and free secondary education for all.
Thapa said they will begin protests from mid-February if their concerns are not addressed. The association has also threatened to shut down schools as a last resort. There are over 7,000 private schools across the country with nearly 20 percent of total students.
Private school operators, however, say it is not the teachers’ place to say how schools should be run.
“Teachers can raise the issue of their welfare but it is not their business to determine how private schools should be running,” Ritu Raj Sapkota, chairperson of the National Private and Boarding Schools Association Nepal, told the Post.
Sapkota said that it is a fallacy to think all the problems in private schools will end once they are converted into trusts.
“I don’t want the teachers to play politics by raising non-issues,” he said.