Plus two schools in the country have been fixing fees as they see fit in absence of rules setting a ceiling on the amount they can charge.
Whenever the issue of arbitrariness of the private schools fees is raised, the Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) and the Department of Education (DoE) point at each other as the agency responsible to deal with it.
There are 3,669 higher secondary schools across the country with about 1 million students enrolled in Grade 11 and 12 every year, according to the Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB).
“As far as we know, there are no rules for enforcing fee ceiling at higher secondary schools,” said Suprabhat Bhandari, president of the Guardians Association of Nepal. “So they charge fees arbitrarily. There must be a rule to enforce a cap on higher secondary school fees.”
According to sources, plus two schools charge an annual fee as high as Rs 80,000 to Rs 90,000 to science faculty students. Those in the humanities and education faculties pay around Rs 40,000 per annum.
Lok Bahadur Bhandari, general secretary of the Higher Secondary Schools’ Association Nepal, admitted that there were no specific rules and regulation regarding official fee structures in the higher secondary education sector.
“We determine our fee structures ourselves and charge fees in a bid to maintain quality and capacity, and to pay for the manpower,” he said. “We should be given the freedom to do so considering our contribution to the nation.”
Narayan Koirala, member secretary of the HSEB, said that the Department of Education (DoE) was the responsible authority in determining the fees at schools. “HSEB is not responsible for determining fees at Class 11 and 12 as per the code of conduct. The DoE has to look after the whole school system,” he claimed.
Khaga Raj Baral, director general at the DoE, said that the department is responsible only for monitoring the schools, including Grades 11 and 12, and
held the HSEB responsible for the growing anarchy within the higher education sector.
“We set fee rules for the secondary level. Since the HSEB grants affiliation to the plus two schools, it is responsible for setting their fees as well,” he added.
Dozens of higher secondary schools have been running without renewing their temporary affiliation. However, the authorities have let them operate without holding them to account over quality and standards in the higher secondary education sector.
They rarely take action against the wrong-doers or low performing schools. The HSEB officials themselves admit that the overall performance of plus two schools were not just unsatisfactory but gradually deteriorating.