Education Minister vows to depoliticize sector amidst challenges

Kathmandu: Education, Science, and Technology Minister Sumana Shrestha has marked her 100th day in office with a firm commitment to cleanse Nepal’s education sector of political influences. Addressing the media at a press conference on Tuesday, Minister Shrestha declared stringent measures to prohibit teachers from affiliating with any political party or its affiliated bodies.

Acknowledging the slow progress in this initiative, Minister Shrestha emphasized its critical importance for the integrity of education in the country. She highlighted that political entanglements detrimentally affect teachers, students, and the overall teaching profession. Shrestha urged the cooperation of all stakeholders to achieve this ambitious goal.

Despite challenges, the Ministry of Education has taken proactive steps, including requesting data from the Election Commission on teachers linked with political entities. As of now, 825 teachers have voluntarily renounced their party memberships in support of the depoliticization agenda. Over the past 100 days, the ministry has addressed complaints against 45 teachers, resulting in 41 explanations sought and four teachers acquitted.

Regarding legislative reforms, Minister Shrestha disclosed that the education bill is currently undergoing deliberation in the legislative committee, though its release date remains uncertain. The government has expedited efforts for its timely enactment. Simultaneously, initiatives are underway to establish transparent procedures and standards for appointing officials in higher education institutions, including the formation of a committee for the selection of Tribhuvan University’s vice-chancellor.

Minister Shrestha reiterated the government’s commitment to merit-based appointments in the education sector, emphasizing competence over political affiliations. The ministry has initiated comprehensive studies aimed at optimizing the distribution of teaching positions to enhance operational efficiency.