Parallel Report submitted by the National Campaign for Education-Nepal, the Nepal National Teachers Association (NNTA), the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and other partners, including the Right to Education Project, on the occasion of the examination of the report of Nepal during the 72nd session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The report shows that the growth of unregulated private education in Nepal supported by the State, is creating and entrenching segregation in education, threatens access to education for girls and children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds and is a cause of discrimination with regards to access to quality education. As pointed out recently by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), such segregation in itself constitutes a human rights violation and must be ended.2 Segregation is also the source of other human rights abuses, including discrimination on the grounds of socio-economic background, gender and caste, a limitation on the right to free quality education, and the lowering of education quality. This situation is extremely problematic because of the injustices it generates which threaten the fragile social cohesion and peace that exist in Nepal. If the situation remains the same, experience shows that the education system is bound to generate instability and protests in an already unstable country that is slowly trying to recover from conflict and humanitarian disaster.
This research provides an overview of the trajectories and forms of education privatisation in Nepal, with a special focus on low-fee and chain schools. In doing so, it seeks to contribute to the ongoing, critical debate about the relationships between students’ rights to quality education, teachers’ rights to quality working conditions, equitable access to schools and the regulation of private actors in education. It used a mixed methodology, comprising desk research, and field work (survey and interviews). The major focus of the desk research was on: (i) identifying and analysing the growth trajectory of privatisation; (ii) examining the overall policy, practice and legislative environment in which the private sector has proliferated; and, (iii) identifying prominent private actors and issues related to equity and social justice in Nepal’s education sector. The fieldwork was comprised of case studies of two types of private schools – (i) the Samata Shiksha Niketan Schools (a low-fee private school chain), and (ii) the schools operated by Chaudhary Group (CG). For the purpose of case studies, five Samata and three CG schools were selected. The case studies were conducted using a survey questionnaire and semi-structured interviews amongst teachers, students, school principals, and promoters/owners. Throughout the process of data collection, interpretation and analysis, special emphasis was given to gender as a cross-cutting perspective.
The publication highlights the low funding of public education which is leading to its decline and consequent growth in privatisation of education. The study also focuses on the private schools’ failure to follow the norms and regulations set out by the Nepali Constitution, as well as the government’s failure to ensure the implementation of these requirements. It also warns that private schools are leading to greater segregation and gaps within the society, between rich and poor, and boys and girls.