Could schools be really made peace zones?

Kathmandu, June 10 - Education experts have expressed doubts over the implementation of the concept of making School Areas a Peace Zone (SAPZ) as the state, they said, was indifferent about this while it was in a transitional phase.

Minister for Education Ganga Lal Tuladhar, addressing a workshop at his ministry, doubted on the proper implementation of SAPZ as the history had shown that such things remained in limbo. However, he made a point that the effort of all concerned was a must to meet the goal.

He said that the state was indifferent to punish the culprits dragging educational institutions into turmoil for their politics in accordance with the law. The constitutional provisions suggest public offence cases against those obstructing the day to day activities of the schools. "However, schools are becoming focal point to create any political influence," he added.

According to him, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has drafted the SAPZ Implemention Directives-2011. The act to implement SAPZ would not come into force until there were enough related legal provisions and self-regulation was also a must, he added.

"The cabinet passed the bill of making schools a peace zone after long efforts although the Nepalese society which has seen many decisions of cabinet in limbo may not see this one succeed either," Minister Tuladhar said. He claimed that the present government was responsible in all areas of education. The declaration of SAPZ by the cabinet itself was an example for the people, he added.

At the function, representatives from various educational institutes argued that the directives contained several faults that would obstruct their implementation.

Mohan Gyawali, president of Nepal Teachers Association said that without political commitment and participation in this campaign, nothing would be changed. Declaring the campaign from the cabinet was not problematic, the key point was how to make it succeed, he added.

Rajesh Khadka, president of Private Boarding School’s Organisations of Nepal (PABSON) said that the MoE was at odds with the PABSON in this campaign. Without seriousness from the private sector, SAPZ would be immobilised, Khadka added. The nation-wide strike just announced even by the teachers, regarded as crucial stakeholders of SAPZ, was a challenge to the campaign, he said.

The cabinet, at its meeting on May 25, had passed the bill on SAPZ and the directives for its implementation of SAPZ were drafted in the consolidated form by the MoE in coordination with all stakeholders of education.

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