Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
Political playground

The student wings of seven major political parties have declared indefinite strikes in all educational institutions across the kingdom beginning 15 June. This at a time when the student body of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) suspended their lockout of private schools and agreed to hold talks with school operators. Things had barely begun to get back to normal before this new development sowed fresh seeds of chaos and uncertainty.

The student unions are progressing on to what they call a "decisive" movement, but the people don't understand their motivation behind strikes that close schools. Judging by what has happened in the last few months, schools and colleges have become playgrounds for student unions affiliated to political parties.

Temporarily closing schools and colleges have become a handy tool for student wings to spring their friends from police custody and secure free medical attention at hospitals. It is the easiest way for them to express their political dissent despite the obvious lack of logic in their actions. After all, the Ministry of Education and Tribhuban University are currently holding talks with them on their 68-point demand list.

Students bear the brunt of abuse, and we know who prompts their actions. They must understand that political loyalty and blind faith are not one and the same. What can we expect of the future when the present generation has nothing to look forward to? The students unions should ask themselves what they stand to gain by calling for schools like Notre Dame in Bandipur or St Mary's in Lalitpur to permanently shut their doors.

This Taliban-style path was embraced by Maoist student wings and we all felt the disruption caused by the insurgency in both urban and rural education. It doesn't seem to be at an end. Now, we have yet another series of extreme anti-school measures under the explicit encouragement of parties that call themselves democratic. The student unions are egging each to outdo the other, as if closing educational institutions was a game. If it gains enough momentum, their "decisive" movement could result in a domino effect that closes schools down all over the country.

National political power play should not infect the school system. Why have the student unions let themselves become pawns for the political agendas of their mentors? In the end we all pay the price for their actions.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)