Dr. BABURAM POKHAREL, founder of VS Niketan Higher Secondary School, is the president of Private and Boarding School Organizations of Nepal (PABSON). After the results of SLC exams, private boarding schools are in the news again. Pokharel spoke to NEW SPOTLIGHT on various issues. Excerpts:
How do you explain the present state?
Private and boarding schools have been providing education to one thirds of total students. It is very sad that private and boarding schools continue to live under the clouds of uncertainty.
How do you view the advertisement race at present?
It should not have been done. But, you cannot stop people from choosing to advertise. Parents are aware about the education institutions. For instance, reputed schools have already stopped spending huge money in public advertisements. Schools like VS Niketan believe in imparting quality education. We don’t believe in business or commercialization.
Then, who is spending such money?
Mostly unknown schools opened with business purposes are doing so. Those who believe in quality education cannot cross their limits. Members of PABSON are aware about this.
What about the government. Doesn’t it protect you?
Don’t talk about giving any protections. The government remains to be more of a destabilizing factor. Other groups do things in an illegal way but the government destabilizes us through legal ways. The work of every education minister seems to destabilize the education institutions.
How do you view the policy of the government?
Policies and regulations are full of contradictions. There are too many negative perceptions about the private schools. What the society, the government and the guardians forget is the contribution made by private schools to enhance the quality of education as per international standards.
What are the implications of destabilization of private and boarding schools?
The first impact is in the quality of education. After the opening of private boarding schools, Nepalese parents virtually stopped sending their children to Indian schools and parents were satisfied sending their children in private board schools. It saved billions of rupees going out of the country.
What is the state of private boarding schools in the country?
There are 9000 private boarding schools with 1.5 million children enrolment as against 29000 public schools with 6.6 million students. Private sector is annually saving over 16 billion rupees of government coffers by providing employment to tens of thousands of people.
How do you justify the current level of commercialization?
Education is not a means to commerce. Education needs to remain as a public service domain. It is not a business. However, it is the government policy that is responsible for the present state.