St Xavier’s School in Nepal closes down indefinitelyFebruary 10th, 2009 - 6:53 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, Feb 10 (IANS) St Xavier’s School, one of the oldest English-medium schools in Nepal and part of the educational chain run by Jesuit Fathers renowned for their contribution to education in Nepal and India, has closed down indefinitely after an agitation by a section of teachers.
The school authorities decided to close down the 58-year-old school indefinitely from Monday after a newly formed union of teachers, calling itself the Nepal Institutional School Teachers’ Union, submitted a 12-point demand to the principal and began a sit-in before the gate of the school in Jawalakhel in Kathmandu Valley.
The school is among Nepal’s most renowned educational institutions, and has about 90 local teachers besides the Jesuit Fathers, most of whom are Indians barring a few Americans.
The agitation by the union of 15 to 20 teachers has affected about 1,700 students.
The school authorities remained tight-lipped, saying they have an agreement with the agitating teachers not to speak in public about the issue till Thursday.
On Wednesday, an emergency meeting has been called with the parents to seek their opinion on the striking teachers’ demands, which include less working hours.
This is the first time the respected school had a taste of the militant trade unionism that has become the hallmark of Nepal since a Maoist government came to power last year.
This month, the Manipal College of Medical Sciences and its affiliated hospital in Pokhara city in western Nepal were shut down by two striking unions affiliated to the Maoists and the opposition Nepali Congress party.
In 1950, then Nepali prime minister Mohun Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana sent an emissary to Patna to meet the Jesuit representative there, Fr Moran, and extend the government’s invitation to open a school in Nepal.
In 1951, the first school opened with 65 students. Visitors to the school included such luminaries as King Mahendra, father of deposed king Gyanendra, and legendary mountaineer John Hunt who led the celebrated Everest expedition in 1953 that saw Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay summit the world’s highest peak for the first ever time.
Around 2003, classes were disrupted at the school for some time as the Maoist students union called a closure of all private schools in a bid to pressure the government into restructuring the fees charged by these schools.