After the establishment of private schools in Nepal, in the name of promoting so-called quality English education to those of high economic status who could pay fees on a regular basis, the road of privatisation of education in Nepal began.
People gradually came to assume that speaking English was a sign of a good education, therefore a majority of people chose private English education (commonly referred to as boarding schools). As a result, the number of students enrolled in the community (or government) schools has gradually decreased. Some Nepali community-based schools have adopted English as a medium of instruction in teaching and learning in order to attract a large number of students.
But, the impact of privatisation of education is not limited to the community schools losing their students. Critically examining, it seems the impact will be more far-fetched than anyone has realised and it may require several generations in the future to bear the brunt.
The deep divide
With the introduction of private schools or the introduction of English-medium classes at government schools, there are two groups of students studying in Nepali and English mediums. In another word, there have been two categories of students who study paying their fees and without paying fees. The massive growth of private schools and the aforementioned education system of some community-based schools–considering both as examples of the privatisation of education–made Nepali school education highly expensive.
Nowadays, such a trend of collecting fees for the English medium has increased even at government schools and the pace is almost equal to private schools, which has been against the spirit of equality as envisioned by the constitution of the democratic country.
Meanwhile, the earlier aura of teaching and learning in the classroom in many respects has declined, and the role of teachers has become just facilitators, and the perception of students towards teachers has been completely changed.
Such practices of providing two mediums of education bring a colossal impact influencing almost all sectors including forming curricula, ways of teaching, and learning systems. In addition, education has become the best and most secure sector for private investment and earning a net profit which victimised the public and will impact as a whole in the future of the nation.
The foreign control
A study by Sah (2021) reported that Nepali educational policymakers are motivated by western curricula, educational policy, and particularly the use of the English language to adapt and adjust to the latest developed globalisation.
The selection of heavily foreign textbooks and teaching and learning systems in the classroom owing to the privatisation of education has been guided by donors and profit-making motives of Nepali academic investors. As the study of Regmi (2017) argued that such a policy of marketisation and privatisation of education in Nepal has been promoted with the support of The World Bank.
This reflected that the Nepali education system has been guided by the interest of the donors and their profit-making mechanism. This adds a serious challenge and threat to the future of our new generation.
Impact on the Nepali education system
Such privatisation of education in Nepal has a profound impact on the entire education system. It encourages private investment in education while reducing government budgets and regulatory procedures in educational sectors.
As a result, investors came into the sector and exploited students and guardians for profit-making. Consequently, the Nepali education system is also solely motivated towards producing human resources by addressing the demand of the market instead of understanding the true sense of education.
Moreover, academic institutions’ success and failure are measured on the basis of how many of their students have been getting jobs in the markets. Such practices lead to the danger of transforming the whole education system as a component of industries and markets.
Then as a result of the privatisation of education, it can make education similar to other commercial products available in the market and can be bought by selecting according to customers’ economic sufficiency. More importantly, such practices transform the role of teachers and students as consumers and producers by killing the previous aura of ideal relations between them.
Additionally, if such a trend continues, it will pose even more major risks in the future, such as education being out of reach for the common people and increasing rates of illiteracy, backwardness, violence, conflict, and inequality.
However, even in such a critical situation, policymakers, political leaders, educationalists, and concerned authorities have not depicted their concerns to improve such a situation in the Nepali education system. The privatisation of education in Nepal needs to be publicly discussed and solved before facing bitter consequences.