The draft bill tabled by the Nepal Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on August 21, 2018 has drawn much attention as it contradicts the provisions of the Nepal Constitution.
While the constitution states that every student should have the right to get free education up to Grade 12 in both private and public schools, the draft bill envisions provision of free education only to public school students in the country.
Clause 20 (1) in the draft bill states that every citizen will have the right to free education up to secondary level. But the sub-clause that follows next restricts this statement by saying, a person has to abide by certain conditions prescribed by the law to enjoy this benefit.
This will make way for the government’s incorporation of a person’s access to free education that is only possible through public schools, in the regulation that has to be drafted for implementation of compulsory and free education in the country.
“This also contradicts with the spirit of the statute that wants to lead the country in the path of socialism,” said Man Prasad Wagle, an education expert advocating alongside that every child has to get free education as per the constitution, whether it is a private or a public school.
“This means education is free only for those studying in public schools,” said senior Ministry officials who are also of the opinion that the draft bill is not in accordance with the provisions of the Nepal Constitution.
Officials also state that some provisions like free meals, free uniforms and stationery to the students in rural areas were stopped due to lack of funds.
However, Wagle thinks that students in rural areas should be provided with aforementioned if the government wants to fulfill its goal of every student being enrolled in a school.
Currently, out of the total seven million school students in the country, only 15 percent study in private schools.