'Private Schools Have To Compete For Performance'

Kamal Prasad Sapkota, principle of New Millennium College, spoke to new spotlight

July 3, 2015, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 09 No. -2 July. 03- 2015 (Ashad 18, 2072)

How do you view the quality of private schools and colleges? Why do we need them?

Although many schools claim that they have good buildings, strong infrastructure and enough playgrounds, what is important for the student is quality of education. There is the need of good learning environment. I think there are three determining factors for a good education system. The most important factor is school management team. The teachers make the second most important component. School administration and physical environment make the third. If any school and college have these three components, they will perform their best and produce good results.

How do you compare the funding of private and government schools? How do you look its implications?

One cannot compare the private and government schools in terms of funding. The private schools are completely dependent on the fees of students for their entire management. However, the government schools are totally funded by the government. Private education institutions cannot survive without delivering quality education and the government education doesn't need to care about it as they receive complete funding. This is the reason, from the school leaving certificate to higher level education, the quality of private schools is better than that of the public schools and colleges. It is unfortunate that the government schools and colleges are in a dire situation despite huge investments and subsidies. The outcome of government education is poor.  Two factors are contributing in draining money in government schools and colleges. The first is politically motivated management committee and the other important lapses are the politicization of teachers. Teachers, including the principal, of government schools and colleges prefer politics to teaching.

In contrast to government schools, private schools and colleges have to be competitive to deliver quality education. Once they fail to provide quality education, they will collapse as all salaries of teachers depend upon the number of students they enroll. We have to work in a competitive environment. As quality of education determines the future of private schools and colleges, we need to be competitive. For this, we need to hire qualitative teachers.

Do you think there is a need to invest more?

My personal opinion is that the government needs to invest some money to private schools also instead of investing in schools and colleges which don't produce the results. The government needs to develop certain criteria so that it can also support private schools. If the government provides certain level of subsidy to private schools on the basis of their performance, they will enhance the quality of education as well as helping reduce their fee structures. The government has to close the government schools, which do not produce the results.

How do you view the regulatory parts of the Ministry of Education?

What I can say the governing framework of the government is good, it is satisfactory, and it is timely. What is lacking is the coordination. There are lapses at the field level. Our policy is good but there is virtually no execution of the policy. Political factors have been impeding implementation.

Despite the fact that private schools and colleges are making contributions, why is so much criticism directed against them?

First of all, the opinions expressed by the government officials and ministers do not represent their inner conscience as they know the real picture of private schools and colleges. Not all schools and colleges are run for profit. There are many which intend to serve the society also. Government officials know this well. When the media raise the issue of private investment in education, then the officials air their views along the media's populist line.

Don't you think there are also bad practices?

Of course, there are certain bad practices prevailing in the private schools and colleges. This is negligible in terms of the contribution made by them. Private schools are supporting the government by imparting quality education to a large number of students. Private schools and colleges are paying taxes. On top of all, they are producing high quality and skilled manpower for the country. Private schools and colleges are supporting, in an organized manner, during the time of crisis. Those who are criticizing us do not analyze the real situation.

Private schools and colleges are ordered to pay the salary of teachers and staffs. However, they are also ordered not to take fees from the students. How do you look at these kinds of contradiction?

One major reason behind this is the low paying capacity of our parents. If they had enough money, they would not listen to these kinds of contradictory views. I am the principal of this college, but I am also a guardian of students of other schools or colleges. I am regularly receiving the bill of my kids and I can see there is an increment by certain percentages. I don't complain about that because I know the reality of the schools. The schools and colleges need regular maintenance of buildings and have to pay salary to the teachers and provide funds. There are also some organized cartel groups who take up the issue in the name of student unions, guardians and teachers. Although they know everything, these groups have the organized strength to make the schools unpopular. Politicians and government officials bow down before them.

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