Face To Face with..

Umesh Shrestha

HISSAN is aware and vigilant about all these malpractices and is labouring hard to implement effective measures

Umesh Shrestha is the president of Higher Secondary Schools' Association Nepal (HISSAN). He is also appointed as the chief advisor of the Private and Boarding Schools' Organisation Nepal (PABSON).

source: THT Perspective, The Himalayan Times

Shrestha, who is also the founder chairperson of Little Angels' College, spoke with THT Perspectives on the rampant unhealthy competition existing among plus two colleges.Excerpts:

There is an unchecked rise in the number of plus two colleges in the valley, and they are charging exorbitant fees as well as involved in unhealthy competition that labels the education sector as an unprofessional one.What are your views?

The major reason for the mushrooming of plus two colleges is that students who have passed the SLC examinations want to pursue their higher studies in the capital, wherever they might have completed their schooling from. Moreover, the number of colleges in the rural areas are very few and students from such deprived areas do not have many options and are forced to migrate to the valley. Thus, the main reason for the exponential rise in the number of colleges in the valley is basically to cater to their needs. When the intake is assured according to the capacity of an institute, the institution's position is stable and they can be insistent in charging high fees.

Why is there no standard or at least uniform fee structure or categorisation among the colleges? What in your opinion on this? What needs to be done to improve such a situation?
It is true that there is no uniformity in the fees being levied. This is because fees are determined according to the standard of education imparted, the number of students in a class and the other facilities provided by an individual institute. But the concerning authority (HSEB) should certainly implement effective mechanism to regularise fee structure by categorising these institutions.

Colleges are aggressively advertising and publicising to attract students. It is noticed that some of them even make false claims that are not fulfilled later on. What do you have to say about it?
The founders of the colleges are investing enormous amounts of money. Thus, it is obvious that to gain returns, they need to draw the attention of the students as well as the parents. So they have no other option than to advertise and make their presence felt in the tough competitive environment that exists. In this process, sometimes they do end up making false claims. This is an unethical act which should be condemned by all. Lack of proper monitoring by the concerned authority also encourages such activity. HISSAN, in consultation with the HSEB, is currently in the process of formulating a code of conduct to limit such deception.

Nepal's education sector often faces the complaint of being highly commercialised yet lacking in the ability to provide excellence in education. How do you view this situation?
The government's failure to provide quality education through its allotted agencies has resulted in parents being forced to shift reliance to private institutions. They have no other choice but to seek education from the private sector. Due to stiff competition that has ensued among private institutions, commercialisation in a way has set crept into this sector.

So, until and unless the government implements firm measures to provide quality education through an effective mechanism, this commercialisation will prevail in the education sector.

HSEB has been losing its credibility along with frequent instances of leakages of exam question papers. Why do you think all these malpractices are prevailing in HSEB and what would be its further impact?

Unprofessional conduct, mismanagement, and malpractice in all government departments are a disease in our country.HSEB is also no exception to this rule. This deviance can only be dealt with through strict rule of laws.

Today, colleges are unnecessarily glamourising themselves, be it through adopting international names or bragging about infrastructure. Do these superfluous matters ensure quality education in colleges?
These matters naturally do not aid the overall educational quality and are only extraneous aids. Actually, only proper and methodical guidance, stringent and effective implementation of code of conduct, professionalism of faculty members, long term vision and planning of the founders along with diligent studies and discipline on the side of students can ensure quality education.

How is HISSAN observing all these happenings in the higher secondary education and what has it done to ensure quality education?

HISSAN is aware and vigilant about all these malpractices and is labouring hard to implement effective measures to address and eliminate all these negative practices in the higher secondary education sector.

source:THT Perspective(2011),"Umesh Shrestha-HISSAN is aware and vigilant about all these malpractices and is labouring hard to implement effective measures", The Himalayan Times, 10 July 2011

photo: The Himalayan Times

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