02/18/2009, 00.00
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Nepal’s Maoist government against private schools

by Kalpit Parajuli
The government imposes a 5 per cent extra tax on private schools. Final exams will not be held unless schools pay up. Private school associations are up in arms against what they consider a “violation of the right to education.” Catholic schools are also affected but will pay the tax to allow students to complete their exams.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – The Maoist government of Nepal is boycotting the country’s private schools, many of which are institutions of excellence dispensing high quality education. The government has imposed a 5 per cent extra tax on such schools, also urging students to transfer to the public system.

The Private and Boarding Schools Organisation of Nepal (PABSON) and the National Private and Boarding Schools Organisation of Nepal (N-PABSON) are against the government’s new tax policy, calling it “unjustifiable and unscientific,” a “burden on the students” that violated their right to an education.

Under the new government policy schools that do not pay the tax will not be allowed to have final exams.

Speaking on the government’s education policy, Nepal’s Finance Minister Baburam Bhattrai said that no private school will be allowed to conduct School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exams until taxes are paid.

Funds raised this way will be re-invested in education in “remote parts of the country,” the minister said.

However, if implemented the no exam provision will adversely affect thousands of students across the country, whose studies would thus come to a halt. The SLC is a key element in the country’s school system. This year exams are set to start on 25 March.

The two private schools associations have announced a protest campaign against the tax.

For Laxya Bahadur K.C. of PABSON, “students should not be deprived of their right to an education. The government should be cooperative with private schools and understand our problems.”

N-PABSON President Gita Rana said that the government tax violates children’s right to an education and could jeopardise the psychological state of students preparing for exams.

Catholic schools are among the educational institutions affected by the new tax. Set up under the previous monarchist government these non-profit organisations have excelled in delivering high quality education.

Father James, principal at St Francis Xavier School in Kathmandu, said that “the school will pay the 5 per cent extra tax. More is spent in education than we collect from students,” he added, “but our goal is to deliver the highest quality education for the lowest cost possible.”

“We are able to do so because of our donors whose support goes into projects that ensure the kids’ right to an education,” he explained.

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