My Republica, 29th March 2017, Kathmandu
The World Bank has approved a US$ 185 million credit to support Nepal's efforts at improving equity, quality, efficiency, governance and management of basic and secondary education. The credit will finance a slice of the government's expenditures in implementing its seven-year School Sector Development Plan, the World Bank said in a statement on Tuesday. “Every year, the program will benefit over 7 million students and over 180,000 teachers and Early Childhood Education and Development facilitators in over 30,000 community schools and centers across the country,” it added.Over the past two decades, Nepal has made impressive gains in school education in terms of access, equity and completion rates.
For example, according to administrative data from the government's education management information system, the net enrolment rate for primary education increased from 71 percent in 1998 to 97 percent in 2016. Among girls it increased from 61 percent to 97 percent during the same period. The primary cycle completion rate increased from 58 percent in 2004 to 80 percent in 2016 while the percentage of out-of-school children among 5-12-year-olds decreased from 21 percent to 15 percent between 2004 and 2011, according to Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).
“Nepal also achieved gender parity in the net enrolment rate at the primary, basic, and secondary levels and disparities in education access across income groups and ethnic and caste groups have also declined,” it added.
Meanwhile, between 2002 and 2015, the number of schools in the country increased by 30 percent, leading to a decrease in the commute time to schools. During the same period, the number of teachers increased by 76 percent, and, as a result, the pupil-teacher ratio declined from 36 to 25, according to the statement.Nonetheless, the World Bank has noted that many challenges remain in the areas of learning outcomes, equitable access and strengthening of the school system.
“The quality of education at the basic and secondary school levels remains low and unequal. Furthermore, learning outcomes vary significantly by geography, school, and individual and household characteristics,” it said, adding: “Other challenges the School Sector Development Plan intends to address are associated with children of basic education age who remain out of school and the low rates of transition and retention at the secondary level, particularly among students from disadvantaged backgrounds.”Other challenges, according to the World Bank, are systemic in nature and include the reliability of data, monitoring and evaluation; compliance with the funding formula and the management of school grants; and issues around financial management and internal controls.
The World Bank has been a partner to Nepal's efforts at improving school education since 1992.