Rupesh Acharya, The Himalayan Times, 20 Sep 2017
Despite strong reservations from lawmakers, even those representing the ruling parties, the Legislature-Parliament today passed the much-debated Education Bill (ninth amendment), which has provisioned fulfilment of 60 per cent of teacher posts in community schools through internal exams and remaining 40 per cent through open competition.
The passage of the bill, introduced to address demands put forth by agitating temporary teachers, shuts the doors of community schools to more than 700,000 teaching licence holders. The temporary teachers had been staging fast-unto-death.
Nepali Congress lawmaker Gagan Thapa said since 82 per cent of total students are enrolled in community schools, the bill has put the future of huge number of students at risk. “I agree that temporary teachers should be compensated, but making them permanent with internal exams puts the future of poor students at risk,” he said, adding that it was the students’ right to get taught by capable teachers.
Stating that the bill also does injustice to more than 700,000 teaching aspirants, Thapa demanded that the bill should have provisioned that 75 per cent of the teachers’ posts be filled through open competition and the rest 25 per cent through internal exams. CPN-UML lawmaker Bikash Lamsal said temporary teachers should be
honoured and provided with proper compensation, but the exam system should not be made so easy that it could deteriorate the quality of education in community schools.
Lawmaker Geeta Chhetri supported the bill, stating that it does not ensure automatic promotion of temporary teachers. “The bill, which ensures that temporary teachers do not leave empty handed, should be welcomed by all,” she said.
Lawmaker Janak Raj Joshi said presentation of the bill on the pretext of addressing demands was an “irresponsible act”. Stating that the passage of the bill raises the chances of recruitment of incapable teachers, he demanded that the bill be sent to the related House committee. “It also encourages government employees in other sectors to get their illegitimate demands fulfilled just by staging protests,” he said.
Lawmaker Radheshayam Adhikari said the passage of such a controversial bill was disheartening. He said the bill should not have been presented and passed through full House, rather it should have been sent to the related parliamentary committee first. “This bill ensures backdoor entry to incapable teachers, while doing injustice to more than 700,000 aspirants,” he said.
Adhikari added that the government should not curtail the rights of local bodies that have been authorised by the constitution to run community schools.
CPN-UML lawmaker Rabindra Adhikari said the bill would jeopardise community education. Demanding that the bill be sent to the related House committee, he said, “Students’ right to quality education should not be snatched.” Lawmaker Rameshwor Phuyal said the bill had closed the door for competent teachers to community schools. “It is not clear for whom the amendment has been made?” he said.
However, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Gopal Man Shrestha said only qualified teachers would pass the exams.
He said since temporary teachers had spent their youth in community schools, this provision was adopted as ‘a golden handshake scheme’ for them. “This has been a chronic problem. Since it has now been addressed, we can focus on boosting education quality in community schools,” he said.
He said the bill was discussed with politicians of all parties and other stakeholders before it was tabled in the Parliament. “The Education Service Commission will conduct regular examinations to select qualified teachers,” he said.