07/18/2012, 00.00
NEPAL

Maoists and nationalists attack dozens of foreign-run private schools

Kalpit Parajuli
Young members of the Congress Party and Nepali Student Union protest against high tuition fees and foreign school names. Attacks began on 15 July, but Jesuit-run Catholic institutions were spared.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - In protest against high fees, young militants from the Maoist and Congress parties have attacked dozens of private schools that rely on foreign funding and staff.

On 15 July, militants from the rightwing Congress party and members of the Nepali Student Union attacked six privately-run schools, breaking furniture and destroying school material. Young Maoists attacked six more colleges, including the Rato Bangla School, Everest Florida College, South Western State College and the Kathmandu Institute of Science and Technology College. More attacks were reported this morning. So far, only the 33 Catholic schools (primary, high school and university) run by the Jesuits were spared.

Ratna Dhakal, a member of the Maoist Student Union, said that his group attacked foreign schools and colleges to remove their foreign names and rehabilitate the country's national and cultural identity. "Ours is a symbolic act," he explained. "Now we want to draw the government's attention to schools that use foreign names and ask excessively expensive fees."

According Dina Nath Sharma, Nepal's education minister, the government is doing all it can to keep things under control. "Over the next few months, we'll try to come up with common standards for private schools by adopting new fee rules, and ask schools to use Nepali names," he said.

For their part, school officials blamed political parties for the attacks, done out of revenge in their view.

Local sources say that various political parties have speculated on private school construction and management, asking for huge sums of money to guarantee regular activities and security to the schools. Those who did not pay were attacked and threatened.

About 53 per cent of the Nepali people is literate. Private schools represent the backbone of the country's school system because only they have been able to provide quality education.

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