By Manjima Dhakal
Kathmandu, Sept. 20: Teachers of private schools might be the worst affected professionals from COVID-19 in Nepal. They have been jobless for months as the schools shut in April have not yet come into operation. When almost all other sectors have gradually returned to normalcy with the relaxation of restrictions, schools are not allowed to open in big cities like Kathmandu and Lalitpur. Although, local levels in the two districts have allowed schools to resume classes in physical presence, the district administration offices have issued notices stating that schools should not operate classes in physical presence of teachers and students.
For the past two years, after the COVID-19 hit the nation, many teachers of the private schools lost their job many were kept in hold in a condition that they would be hired again to work after the situation returned to normalcy. Those who are continuing their jobs are getting only half of their monthly pay.
According to the data of Institutional School Teachers’ Union (ISTU), about 10,000 teachers associated with private schools lost their jobs in the first wave of COVID-19. Though a large number of teachers from outside the Kathmandu Valley lost their jobs in the first wave, in second wave, many teachers of the Kathmandu Valley were facing job loss problem, Devi Datta Poudel, vice-chairperson of the ISTU, said.
Recently, 20 teachers of Paragon School, Kathmandu lost their jobs because of COVID-19, Datta informed. Likewise, a few months ago, Shuvatara School of Lalitpur was shut citing the same reason.
The situation of teachers associated with reputed private schools is more vulnerable this year, Poudel said. According to him, permanent teachers of big private schools are also facing the trouble after they heavily cut their facilities.
Tika Puri, chairperson of the Private and Boarding Schools’ Organisation Nepal (PABSON), said though the school operators have no intention not to pay their teachers and employees, they have no option as the they lost the source of income.
However, ISTU blamed that many schools were spending the fees they collected during admission times in other operational costs like paying instalments of vehicles and to pay rents, instead of paying the teachers.
Schools are not providing scholarships and other facilities to children showing the cause of COVID-19, Poudel said.
Puri rejected the blame and said schools are not able to collect fees from guardians while many students are not connected to virtual mode of learning. He further said guardians are not paying full fees even if their kids are taking online classes.
He said schools must come into operation physically now as they have been facing existential crisis and students’ learning habits are also deteriorating day by day.
Problems of teachers will be gradually resolved once the schools are allowed to resume physical classes, Puri said.
Educationist Prof. Dr. Balchandra Luitel takes this crisis as a presumed condition because both private schools and the government had not prepared for the emergency.