The third day of a protracted teachers’ strike in Nepal has seen millions of children absent from all public institutions.
A bill to restructure education is being opposed by almost 110,000 teachers in parliament.
They oppose measures that would give local governments control over schools and prohibit teachers from belonging to organisations with political links.
Hundreds of demonstrators marched towards Kathmandu’s parliament building on Thursday.
As the demonstrators attempted to push beyond a steel barricade, anti-riot police carrying sticks moved ahead.
In order for lessons to resume, parents and students are pleading for an end to the turmoil.
Simran Bhatta Acharya, 16, who is getting ready for national exams, asked, “How can my own teachers play against my future?”
Sabitri Acharya, Simran’s mother, revealed that she has taken several days off from work to care for Simran.
How long can I maintain that? Without restricting the children’s entitlement to education, teachers should fight for their rights, she advised.
The bill’s clause that prohibits teachers from joining groups with political allegiances is the subject of their protest.
Notably participating in the nation’s fight for democracy were Nepali teachers. In 1959, the nation held its first parliamentary elections, and political parties have long sought to enlist educators as activists.
However, some education experts contend that instructors who are politically active lower the quality of teaching and have pushed for a ban on party politics in these settings.
Nepal: Thousands protest education reforms
Teachers oppose proposals to grant local governments control over schools, arguing that only the federal government should have this authority.
A 2015 constitutional amendment transferred control of some public institutions, including hospitals and schools, to local governments. This came after worries over Kathmandu’s concentration of power and resources.
Eight years later, some teachers are lamenting that the quality of education has declined because local leaders are ill-prepared to manage schools.
However, a majority of Nepalis support the legislation because they feel it will increase teacher accountability.
The teachers have made a number of requests to the government, including one that transfers and promotions be decided at the province level rather than by local towns.
They also demanded increased pay, a council to monitor teacher training, and chances for contract teachers to accept permanent positions.
The government, according to Kamala Tuladhar, president of the Nepal Teachers’ Association, did not uphold its earlier “agreement” with teachers to resolve their concerns.
We had to demonstrate because many issues were left unresolved, she added.
However, the teachers “started protesting without informing the government about their demands,” according to Nepal’s interim Prime Minister Purna Bahadur.
On Thursday and Friday, government representatives met with the protesting teachers to hear about their issues. The talks, according to officials, were “positive” but came to a deadlock.
If their demands are not satisfied, the teachers have warned to stage additional protests.
The acting prime minister has “assured that the government has no intention of undermining the teachers’ morale,” according to Kamal Giri, deputy prime minister Narayankaji Shrestha’s press secretary, who spoke to the BBC.