Both academic and financial investment of the private sector in Nepal’s has become immense. The state, civil society and academicians have duly accepted its role in quality education. But, the private education in Nepal is not free from criticism–for being too business-oriented and not agreeing to the government directives in many cases. On the same backdrop, Sushil Koirala of sopannews caught up with Principal of the Pokhara-based Srijana Higher Secondary School, Mr. Dol Raj Pandey, to unveil many dynamics of private education in the country.
Mr Pandey you are welcome to the sopannews.com.
You are in the education field almost for three decades now. How would you share your journey and experience in education sector?
Prior to establishing Srijana Higher Secondary School in 1993 with a motto of ‘Integration through education, I taught for 8 years in both the community and private schools. As the community school I taught was located in a remote area, the environment was such that system of imparting knowledge was tedious and difficult. But during the latter half of my teaching years, I could see gradual rise of awareness on importance of education.
When the government miserably failed to keep the community school on its priority list, it sought help from the private sector and the laws were made accordingly and more private schools were established after the People’s Movement-I. These days there is a certain growth in a way how private schools operate as well as certain growth in parents’ role. Parents teach students, take them to enroll in schools albeit they couldn’t get proper education. So, there is an increase in awareness in all components of education. I feel education is key to success, more so now than ever.
So, in your views, what makes a school perfect?
It is very difficult to make an educational Institution perfect because there is no such thing as perfection. I feel Investment in school is like an ocean as time changes its nature. We have seen schools from low to extremely high investment. Having said that first point is obviously educational institution needs to give proper and quality education as per time whether low or high investment. There needs an environment where students can enjoy the audacity for learning. Well equipped libraries along with well the sophisticated laboratories and qualified and trained teachers help make an educational institution smarter.
In short, management and student-friendly environment is a basic criterion for school to achieve perfection. I am for heterogeneous points because the context at present is peculiar in regard to interest of students and a school has to give the student what they need to excel in their life.
On that regard how has Srijana HSS evolved in the many years and has it been able to fulfil above mentioned needs?
We have tried our best for doing the same. There have been arrangements of training on timely basis to teachers to make them razor sharp. We have started out e-learning in primary level for some subjects. Similarly, we have better child care centre compared to Montessori with trained teachers. The teachers are provided with training. Personality development program for the children is like a regular function.
Srijana HSS has tried to do justice to parents’ value of money into students’ future through the safe trust of service. Likewise, the private schools aren’t same as there are schools which provide education at Rs 100 to that charge fees in dollars per month. So, classification needs to be done.
Likewise, in higher secondary level too we have left no stone unturned to excellence. We have also given due interest towards sports. I would like to specially mention here that we tasted loads of success in cricket.Whole nation is divided into different sectors and we feel proud that our girls have been in selection for sector no. 8 which comprises 4 districts. They have also represented Nepal on many occasions and have been making us proud.
Many private school managers argue that this is the service oriented sector while critics call it as a business. What’s your take on this?
We need to be clear on the fact that the private schools are both service and profit oriented as given by law. Schools are also service oriented but after paying money. So, we don’t want government to look us merely as a business. We have been univocal on the fact that government needs to change its approach on seeing the private school. We are ready to pay tax but it should be solely spent on education sector.
In fact, there is more investment on individual student in community school than in private schools.
We are run according to Ministry’s guidelines. We are supervised and inspected by the District Education Office. If you look at statistics, government has put us under the Company Act by which a noodle factory is also supervised. So, this difference should be addressed by government, making a separate law for educational institutions.
What is the role of private schools towards community responsibilities? How has SHSS being able to do so?
Actually there are certain community responsibilities of the private schools and I feel for that matter awareness is a must. Awareness should be given towards an ideal society free of stigma, knowledge on health and lifestyle. We are also carrying out our activities for social responsibilities.
What have you realized for the reforms programs in the academic institutions?
There are a lot of areas that in need of reforms in the education sector. In community schools, management is poor. So management should be strengthened. The teachers are well trained but still the results are poor. So, government needs to bridge this gap.There has been loads of investment in the community schools. So, proper management is a must in community schools.
In private schools, government must make its stand clear and draft a separate law for education sector. There are certain schools and institutions which charge high fees, which need to be taken care of as per inspection.
I would strongly emphasize on a stable government for overall development in education. Only after stability and constitution, we could visualize radical changes.
How do you feel when your students excel and perform in different sectors nationally and internationally?
Well, it’s really is a matter of pride when out students shine in different sectors. Our students are in medical, engineering and other fields in the country as well as abroad. When I meet them after long gap, I feel we have done something good to the society. The level of satisfaction comes into play. I feel we have become successful in earning the trust of parents too.