Private Schools & TU Professors Saga Of A Sweet/Sour Relation
In this world of global consumerism, who is not greedy and a profit monger? Who is not ambitious and who is not up for sale? Who doesn’t want some extra rupees in hand at the end of the month? Who wouldn’t like to save a few pennies for an emergency purpose? And, looking from the other side of the spectrum, who wouldn’t like to hire a well qualified person with an attractive CV, equally attractive track record in the academic field and wish to pocket some extra income with less work and more frequent appearance in the new non-workplace? If there is someone who is not, then the world must find such a person to offer the status of a ‘celebrity’.
With the phenomenal growth of private schools and colleges in Nepal, many retired professors (e.g. from good old TU), especially from the Management and Science faculties, were spotted and picked up by the new and mushrooming schools and college managements. In many cases, the offers were made very lucrative, responsibility much less and freedom unlimited. The gray hair and the artificial but shining teeth had done the job.
In the last decade alone, a bunch of TU professors were picked up and welcomed with a red carpet in many such institutions. All went well for some time until a horrific picture began to emerge. The un-experienced and money-monger founder managers began to show their real motive in starting the institutions - treat the institution well like a small, growing goat, and as it begins to mature, send it to the goat market for sale to bag a sizable profit. In another situation, the managers begin to pull daggers and fight openly. It becomes impossible for the innocent white haired principal to bear with the situation, and he/she has only one option: Quit and disappear.
Selling an institution with a future is a foolish thing to do, in the first place. The perpetrators do not have the slightest idea that their deal is going to have a damaging effect on the students, the guardians and the teachers serving them. But, who cares? Plans of starting a new school/college and selling it keep coming and going every academic year.
Here also the option is the same - send the sinking goat with a reasonable small price tag. A big price is always encouraging him/her/them to open one more such institution, fool an aging professor to be the principal or chief advisor and sell it again with a price of their mouth.
In the process of buying and selling, even big name +2 schools and colleges have disappeared from the educational map. Some buyers have ended up in the mosquito-prone Hanumandhoka cells for forgery and other crimes. That does not end the issue. Some fast grown institutions have lost credibility, and the HSEB has dismissed their registration. This has caused not only confusion among the students about their final exams but also humiliated the retired professors to the maximum. This scribe is a star witness of this phenomenon where thousands of students had to suffer shock and disorder due to the sell and buy game of the perpetrators.
Back in the early 1990s, Prof KB Mathema, the vice chancellor of TU, had issued a strict regulation that required TU academicians to have pre-approval from the VC office before undertaking an assignment outside the TU. Slowly, his successors did not pay proper attention to this, and the TU staff found it easy to run away from their desk and classes and earn the ‘extra’ rupee. No private college or university would survive and thrive without the run-away scholars and staff. Worse came only when the private colleges began to disappear from the scene.
Reportedly, TU is revamping the old regulation to stop its professors from two full-time jobs - inside TU and outside it. For the retired professors, private colleges and schools are still viable options in terms of extra income. But the ‘goat market’ culture and mutual distrust make it difficult to attract them. In a short time, big name boards in and around Tinkune, Minbhavan, Shantinagar, Gaushala, Baneshwor, among other places, have shown how big and medium level names that existed are now down and out. The writer, unfortunately, does not have adequate and reliable data to add on from outside Kathmandu. The saga, one can believe, is the same.
One example comes real handy. In two years’ time, Pyramid, a private +2 located at Pingalasthan, Gaushala, was able to collect more than 1,200 students in the school and +2 levels. The number was phenomenal given the duration of time. And yet, the white hair of the principal, this scribe, his words of wisdom to the parents and the community didn’t matter much as the ‘fast growing goat was sold in the market. The victims were the students enrolled in three faculties - humanities, management science.
The new buyer gave a new name - Gurukul - against the old name, Pyramid. And one day he landed in Hanumandhoka owing to his old habit of buy and sell and pay nothing. Luckily the principal was not sold in the package deal and saved his life. The latest saga is linked with a fast growing private school where a business tycoon did all to cheat the partners. This scribe, founder chairman and promoter, could tolerate the attitude no longer and had to quit without a penny as ‘profit’.
Finally, the white hair means white all the way down to the root. We have lost or are losing memory and strength, and yet they want us to be photographed in their brochure and other literature. For them, not just the face but the degree is equally important to show and cash in for their benefit, and there is no limit to this.
Everyone wants to be millionaire within a short period of time. There is complete negligence of the fact that education is a social service of the best kind, and commercialisation of this service is unacceptable to say the least. This writer has served at least four such private schools/colleges as principal, chairman of the board or as advisor. In all this, he had very bitter experiences that led to the birth of this brief write-up.