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Nepal Private Schools with Western Names Under Attack

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Download In Nepal, children can go to high school at the Albert Einstein Academy.

Parents can also send their children to the Liverpool High School or the NASA Institute.

Most of the private schools in Nepal have Western names.

But the now the government wants to change it.  They have issued a ban on Western names saying Nepalese culture is under attack.

But as Sunil Neupane reports, this is not just about nationalism.

Nepal’s education system relies heavily on foreign aid.

Around 250 private schools in Kathmandu have Western names as a way to attract both students and funding. They follow or adopt international curriculums and charge expensive fees.

And their names are taken from historical figures like ‘Einstein’, places like ‘Florida’ or just any English words like ‘Highway Garden’.  
But faction of the ruling Nepalese communist party doesn’t like it.

And the student wing of the party has taken direct action to shut the schools down.

In a press conference in Kathmandu, the group coordinator Sharad Rasayeli announces that they have shut-down 40 schools who had foreign names.

They smashed the schools’ furniture and told students to stay at home.

“School name reflects nationality. And there are so many colleges in our country that use name of foreign cities or popular football club. There’s Liverpool College which uses the same logo as the Liverpool football club from the UK. College owners are trying to get more money from parents by selling foreign school names, and this is what we object.”

The student union insists their protests have been peaceful.

But the authorities say they have vandalised colleges, destroyed school facilities and even torched a school bus.

The student union also attacked Rato Bangala School, which doesn’t have a foreign name. And not all foreign-named schools have been attacked.

Education journalist from Kantipur Daily Anamolmani Poudel says, it’s not just about nationalism.

“There’s a political reason behind it. Recently the largest party, Maoist, has split and one of the fractions formed a new radical political party. They will have their first general convention within the next few months. They asked for donations from private schools. The ones who refused to pay became target.”

Earlier this month the Ministry of Education has banned private schools from using Western names.

Dr. Rosenath Pandey is the deputy spokesperson of the Ministry of Education.

“You can find names like Pentagon, White Field, and many more here, and this should change. We have an Education Act that clearly says that school names should reflect Nepali culture. But it’s violated by private schools. Some colleges are using English names to attract students after seeing the names. We must make a clear regulation. We demand schools to change their names without asking for any money.”

But private schools are not ready.

According to the Higher Secondery School Association, the majority of the 750 private schools in Nepal use Western names.

Yuwaraj Sharma is the Association’s vice chairman.

“It’s not a good policy because our school names are our brands. We have provided various academic programs for so many years. Nobody expect the names to change. We have been standing for one or two decades and we have tens of thousands of student who have passed from our schools. They already got their certificates from the colleges. Why should we change the name?”

But education expert Dr. Bidhyanath Koirala says it’s just a small technical problem.

“Schools can create new certificate. They can write on it that ‘this was the original name, but now we change it’. That’s easy, it shouldn’t be a problem. There are evidences from around the world. Some universities merged, or transfered, and they change names. It’s not that difficult.”

But Dikshya Basne from White Gold College doesn’t want his school to change its name.

“No, it’s not good to change the school name. We learn English at school, so why can’t we use English name for our school? Nepalese names for schools are not good. Let’s say I study here at the White Gold College. And when it’s translated to Nepalese, this will not sound any good. NASA school will be translated as “vein” while Liverpool as “red pool” in Nepalese. Please don’t force our school to change its name.”

19-year old Pratik Dhakal studies at the Prasadi Academy.

He says what’s more important is the quality of the education.

“If schools don’t offer good quality, why do they use foriegn names? But if they promises good education, they can keep the name. I study at Prasadi, which means ‘gift of God’ in Nepalese, and it offers good education for me.”

Private schools with foreign names are ordered to change their names within the next six months.

But the Higher Secondary School Association is prepared to fight.

Yuwaraj Sharma is a member of the association and the owner of the White House College.

“Our Association has not brought any official conclusion. We’re having series of meetings to discuss this matter. But to us, the government should give us compensation to change the school names – it’s our brand and we have put huge investment over the period of time. The Government has to face legal issues about this.”


Last Updated ( Saturday, 18 August 2012 16:41 )  

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