By Chirendra Satyal, Kathmandu
Nepal student unions have threatened violence against schools that failed to follow a union directive to go on strike in protest against education changes introduced by the government.
Eleven student unions enforced a nationwide strike on Aug. 5 to protest against the phasing out of the Proficiency Certificate Level exams.
“Bhasker Kafle, president of the All Nepal National Free Students Union, phoned asking why we had not followed their directive to close down,” said Jesuit Father Boniface Tigga, principal of St. Xavier’s School in Kathmandu.
“He warned that our school buses could be burnt if we did not follow directives. We would not close just because of a demand in the local press – but fearing the worst we have decided to send the children home this morning.”
The 1,800-student school faced great difficulty in having to contact parents and deal with young children who could not return home alone, Father Tigga added.
Students from the St. Mary’s Catholic High School for girls in Kathmandu also had to return home.
Class 11 students said their school was forced to close hurriedly.
However, other schools in the city defied threats and remain open.
Elsewhere, riot police in armored vans guarded Kathmandu colleges that had shut their gates.
Various student groups have engaged in street clashes over the past week.
Meanwhile, schools in other regions of the country faced similar problems.
Father Tigga said that he had received calls from Jesuit schools in eastern Nepal that had closed.
Sister Cecelia Simick, from the western town of Surkhet, said her school had to call off classes.
“But our small children could be seen in uniform loitering on the roadsides,” she said.
“We do not have any clear idea about why this strike was called,” added the Sister of Charity of Nazareth nun.