PRIVATE SCHOOLS Terror Tantrum

No sooner admissions open for school graduates to pursue higher secondary education than the student unions affiliated to various political parties announce programs to disrupt classes. Barely a month has passed since the announcement of the SLC resu

July 30, 2012, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 06 No-. 04 July 27-2012 (Shrawan 12,2069)<br>

Students affiliated to the All Nepal Independent Students Union (Revolutionary), ANNISU-R, the student wing of the CPN-Maoist, torched a school bus belonging to the Delhi Public School near Seutipul in Dharan on July 24. The bus was carrying students when cadres of the ANNISU-R stopped it on the road inside the Charkosejhadi forest and torched it. It was taking students to school in Dharan from Biratnagar.


Similarly, Rato Bangla School’s bus was set on fire as it was on its way to pick up kids in Kathmandu on July 16. Had the bus carried students, the situation could have been horrible. Attacks destroyed the buses in these incidents, indicating how terror is gripping the private schools.


An institution known for providing quality education in affordable prices at home, Rato Bangala, however, is always the target of terror from student wings, particularly affiliated to the Maoists. In the recent campaign that sees so much in a name, Rato Bangala should not merit attention as a target. The name is Nepali and the fees charged by the school are affordable.


So, the incidents prove the people right when they say quality education is under attack. Commoners, journalists, politicians and businessmen have been sending their kids to Rato Bangala School. Yet, when the school faced attacks, only a few people dared to speak against this.


Now Delhi Public School of Dharan, which is also known for quality education in affordable price in eastern Nepal, was targeted by radicals who don’t want to see quality education in the country.


Since the campaign against the private schools launched by ANNISU-R began a week ago, it has already mounted assaults on a number of private colleges and schools, damaging their vehicles and properties worth millions of rupees and creating a state of fear in the schools. Instead of becoming a Zone of Peace, schools look like they are becoming a Zone of Terror.


Along with ANNISU-Revolutionary, students belonging to other student unions, including Nepal Students Union of Nepali Congress, All Nepal National Independent Free Students Union of CPN-UML and ANNISU of UCPN-Maoist have been launching physical assaults against private schools. They say that their agitation is against schools which use foreign names and charge high fees.


In the week-long mayhem, student groups also vandalized or shut down South Western State College (SWSC) in Basundhara and Everest Florida Higher Secondary School at Minbhawan, and White House International College, among others. The two days of general strike called by the students has already harmed the private schools.


“Private and boarding schools have been providing education to one third of the total students. It is very sad that private and boarding schools continue to live under terror. Bomb and arson are becoming common in the schools. Even the government is indifferent about such things in a sense,” said Dr. Baburam Pokharel, president of Private and Boarding Schools Association of Nepal (PABSON).


“Along with the students, even the Ministry of Education is asking us to change the names of schools which are in English. This is another sheer nonsense. Instead of talking about the quality of education offered by private and boarding schools, the ministry is concerned about foreign names. If the minister wants Nepalisation of the names, he must start by changing the name of his own party,” said Dr. Pokharel.


According to PABSON, there are 9,000 private boarding schools with 1.5 million children enrolled in them as against 29,000 public schools with 6.6 million students.


Vice-principal of SWSC Hari Singh KC said a group of about seven students forcibly entered the college and smashed the glass of the main gate, computers, television set and an aquarium at the reception. Principal of Everest Florida College Dr Manoj Kumar Jha said a group of over 30 people on motorcycle entered the college and smashed window panes and a chandelier kept in the reception. At a time when such a terror continues against private and boarding schools, student groups, which commit the acts, are openly justifying these as their bravery. However, the civil society members, rights activists, leaders of political parties and the government are just silent spectators to the act of vandalism.


The question is how long the state allows such impunity. “Those who are involved in vandalism need to be brought before the law. There is no place for such acts in a civilized society,” said advocate Madhav Basnet. “Since the government itself is composed of criminals involved or indicted in various cases, they don’t have any moral guts,” said Basnet.


The ANNISU-R strike has affected tens of thousands of students of private higher secondary schools across the country. Even the media which generate a fair amount of their revenues from school advertisements remain silent spectators.


When state of vandalism and act of terror are going on, coordinator of Baidya affiliated ANNISU-R Sharad Rasaily, acknowledging the responsibility, termed the attacks symbolic and warned of more "destructive and serious” repercussions.


“Our demands include free education up to grade 12, and an egalitarian and scientific fee structure in private schools. All the schools using foreign names will be punished if they do not change their names,” thundered Rasaily.


The timing of launching the terror tantrum against the private boarding schools and publication of advertisements for admissions in private schools of foreign countries has always coincided.  Although Nepal’s student unions launched the agitation with a good intention, their actions, however, helped the foreign schools which came to attract the Nepalese students. The question is how long the state allows such impunity. “Those who are involved in vandalism need to be brought before the law. There is no place for such acts in a civilized society,” said advocate Madhav Basnet. “Since the government itself is composed of criminals involved or indicted in various cases, they don’t have any moral guts,” said Basnet.


The ANNISU-R strike has affected tens of thousands of students of private higher secondary schools across the country. Even the media which generate a fair amount of their revenues from school advertisements remain silent spectators.


When state of vandalism and act of terror are going on, coordinator of Baidya affiliated ANNISU-R Sharad Rasaily, acknowledging the responsibility, termed the attacks symbolic and warned of more "destructive and serious” repercussions.


“Our demands include free education up to grade 12, and an egalitarian and scientific fee structure in private schools. All the schools using foreign names will be punished if they do not change their names,” thundered Rasaily.


The timing of launching the terror tantrum against the private boarding schools and publication of advertisements for admissions in private schools of foreign countries has always coincided.  Although Nepal’s student unions launched the agitation with a good intention, their actions, however, helped the foreign schools which came to attract the Nepalese students.

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