In response to the ‘mushrooming’ of private schools, especially in the urban areas of Nepal, the government came up with ‘Institutional School Criteria and Operation Directives’ in 2013. It’s noble intention was to ensure quality education at affordable prices for parents. Most unfortunately, the directive equates quality education with infrastructural standards and in the process sets the stage for some regressive implications, many of which are foreseeable unintended consequences. The directive lays down a set of infrastructural (and other institutional) compliances, that all private schools that come into operation after the endorsement of the directive, or were already existing but are willing to relocate themselves to a new place, have to compulsorily follow.
The simple objective of this paper was to analyze the policy not based on its intentions, but implications. On one hand, complying with these regulations means that the cost of opening up a new private school is going to go up. On the other hand, pre-existing regulations that guide the education sector of Nepal have set a ceiling on the maximum fee any school can charge to its students. The authors’ back-of-the-envelope calculations show that fees set by the Kathmandu District Education Office (DEO) will not even cover the set up costs for schools that will be established in Kathmandu, let alone covering their cost of operation. In such case, how will the private schools respond and what does it mean for the parents? The second volume in our education series thus aims to examine and answer these questions.
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