Friday, October 2, 2020

Parents demand refund of money charged from tenth graders as exam registration fee

 The National Examination had collected Rs 24 million for the Secondary Education Examinations which never happened.

A parents’ group has demanded that the government return the exam registration fee collected for the Secondary Education Examinations, as the exams were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Guardians’ Federation, Nepal has asked the Ministry of Education and the National Examination Board to refund the exam registration fee from each student who was supposed to sit for the annual SEE.

The federation presented its demand after the board charged Rs 250 from the students as exam certificate fee.

Suprabhat Bhandari, chairperson of the federation, said they wouldn’t have demanded for the refund had the examination board decided to adjust the examination fee by issuing the exam certificates for free.

As many as 482,986 who had registered for the grade 10 board examinations had contributed a total of Rs 24.14 million to the examination board in the form of examination fee. Each student had paid Rs 500 as exam registration fee.

“Rs 500 might not be a big amount. However, it is about developing a system. It is unethical to charge the money for the examination that never happened,” Bhandari told the Post.

The Cabinet on June 10 had decided to cancel the exams for this year and issue certificates based on the internal evaluation conducted by schools.

The examination board readied the certificates after authentication of the marks ledger provided by schools. The compiled results were published on August 17.

Bhandari said they have put their demand before Education Secretary Gopinath Mainali and Chairperson of National Examination Board Chandra Mani Poudel.

The officials have responded that around half of the exam registration fee charged from each student (Rs 240) was spent while reading the question papers and answer sheets while the remaining sum (Rs 260) was sent to the state coffers.

The officials say the Education Ministry or the examination board alone cannot decide to refund the money that has already been submitted to the state coffers.

“We have heard the demand of the parents, but it is not up to the board to decide. It is the Cabinet that should have made the decision of issuing the exam certificates from the money collected as exam registration fee,” Poudel told the Post.

Meanwhile, the examination board, which had already raised the exam registration fee for grade 11, has decided not to charge the students for exam certificates.

Starting this year, schools are responsible for conducting the grade 11 examinations. Poudel said the examination board has the authority to decide on the issues related to the exams of grade 11 and 12, but the Education Ministry is responsible for the SEE related issues.

Bhandari, the chairperson of the Guardians’ Federation, however, said if it is not possible for the government to refund the fees, the money should be used for the benefit of the students, such as providing various supports to schools or creating a fund for schools and students affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Clause 148 of the Education Regulation 2002 says that schools must spend the money for the purpose for which the fee is levied from the students.

“The rule must apply to the government as well,” Bhandari said.

As the Constitution of Nepal guarantees free education up to secondary level, Bhandari said it is unconstitutional to charge exam registration fees on students.

Article 31(2) of the constitution holds the state responsible for ensuring compulsory basic education and free secondary education for all.

“If students have the constitutional right to free education, why should they pay to test their learning achievement?” Bhandari said.

Education experts sympathise with the demand of the parents’ group.

They say it is a moral duty of everyone including the government to refund the money if its purpose is not served.

“The state should not be doing business. The Education Ministry should be answerable to the students about the fee it charged from the students,” Binay Kusiyait, a professor at the Tribhuvan University, told the Post. “The government should do away the exam registration fee for good.”

source: the kathmandu post,2 October 2020

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