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### Sumana Shrestha’s Approach to the School Education Bill Under Scrutiny

The education minister, Sumana Shrestha, a lawmaker from the Rastriya Swatantra Party, previously raised objections to certain provisions within the school education bill under discussion in a House committee. She expressed concerns that the bill does not aim to enhance the quality of education or align with the constitution, advocating for its revision.

Now vested with the role of overseeing the bill’s progression through Parliament as the minister for education, science, and technology, Shrestha holds the responsibility for its passage. Nevertheless, the government reserves the option to retract the bill and introduce a new version if deemed necessary.

Although Shrestha has not publicly disclosed her stance on the bill since assuming office, she emphasizes the importance of thorough discussions across all provinces before finalizing it. The recent appointment of Bhanu Bhakta Joshi, the chairperson of the Education, Health, and Information Technology Committee, as a minister has temporarily halted the bill’s deliberation.

In contrast to Shrestha’s position, teacher representatives advocate for the bill’s approval with amendments. Kamala Tuladhar, chairperson of the Teachers’ Federation Nepal, conveyed their stance against a complete redrafting, proposing revisions instead. The federation opposes granting local governments the authority to manage teachers, citing bias concerns, and has outlined 61 points of contention in the bill.

On the other hand, local government representatives have proposed revisions to 37 aspects of the bill, emphasizing their desire for autonomy in issuing laws related to school education and developing local curricula and textbooks.

Navigating the divergent demands of teachers, local representatives, private education operators, and student unions poses a significant challenge in finalizing the bill. Student unions advocate for converting privately-owned schools into trusts to curb commercialization, while private school operators assert their right to operate under the Company Act.

Lawmakers from the House committee aim to facilitate a consensus among all stakeholders to address these conflicting interests. The appointment of a new chairperson for the committee is pending, following the transition of leadership due to the formation of a new alliance.