Government agrees to grant affiliation to B&C Medical CollegeDespite protests against affiliation, the prime minister-headed commission has asked for the necessary paperwork to be completed within a week.
The Medical Education Commission, the government entity to regulate the medical education sector, on Friday agreed in principle to grant affiliation to the controversial B&C Medical College based in Birtamod, Jhapa.
The commission led by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who is ex-officio chairperson of the commission, decided to grant the affiliation to the college after it fulfils the necessary legal procedure.
The college, which received the letter of intent from the Ministry of Education in 2014, had long been lobbying to receive the affiliation to run the MBBS programme.
Its attempts had failed following strong reservation from Dr Govinda KC, an orthopaedic surgeon who has been demanding reforms in the country’s medical education sector.
“The commission will now complete the paperwork for the affiliation as per Friday’s decision,” Usha Jha, a member of the National Planning Commission who was present at the meeting, told the Post. “The next meeting of the commission will make a formal decision on the matter.”
Kathmandu University, which on February 24 gave consent for the affiliation, will affiliate the college once the commission makes its final decision.
The college is owned by Durga Prasai who reportedly maintains close ties with Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chair of the CPN (Maoist Centre). His earlier attempts to secure the affiliation using his political connections hadn’t succeeded following strong criticisms from different quarters.
However, Prime Minister Oli and Minister for Education, Science and Technology Krishna Gopal Shrestha have been openly standing in favour of granting the affiliation to B&C.
At Friday's meeting, Oli said it was pointless to stop B&C College from affiliation as it has met every requirement.
Basuriddin Ansari, the owner of Birgunj-based National Medical College who was present at the meeting representing private medical colleges, said the prime minister was of the view of allowing private medical colleges to promote private medical schools, as hundreds of students were visiting abroad for medical education every year.
“He [Oli] said Nepal needs more medical experts and it is not possible without adding more medical colleges,” Ansari told the Post. “He has directed the commission to sort out all the requirements within a week.”
Meanwhile, Dr KC, who is currently in Yemen, has warned of another hunger strike if the college is granted affiliation.
People aligned to the Brihat Nagarik Aandolan, a citizen’s movement along with Alliance for Dr KC, a group supporting the protests of Dr Govinda KC against the commercialisation of medical education, have already started protests against the government's plan to grant affiliation to B&C Medical College.
The two groups protested near the prime minister’s residence on Friday against the decision.
Police arrested 18 of the protesters, according to Brihat Nagarik Aandolan.
They were released later in the afternoon.
The protesters have claimed that the latest decision to grant affiliation to B&C College is against the National Medical Education Act-2019, which was endorsed by Parliament to address the concerns of Dr KC. Clause 13 (6) of the Act says whatsoever is written in other clauses, no university would be allowed to grant affiliations to more than five medical colleges once the Act comes into implementation.
However, there’s a provision in the clause that says the Act doesn’t bar for providing affiliation to the college located outside the Kathmandu Valley which had got letter of intent before the Act came into effect.
The clause gives the commission the authority to decide about such colleges.
The B&C had got the letter of intent in 2014 around five years before the Act came into effect.
Jha said there is no legal hurdle to affiliate the college which is one of the well-resourced medical colleges in the country.
“There have been controversies due to some statements by Prasai. There are no other reasons not to grant affiliation to the college,” she told the Post.