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The Ministry of Education concluded the first annual Budget Review Meeting of the School Sector Development Plan (SSDP) on March 31st 2017. During the four-day meeting, the Government and the school sector Development Partners reviewed the progress of SSDP implementation and the assurance of adequate budget provisions for its implementation in the upcoming fiscal year. The Government’s 7-year SSD Plan is supported in the first five years (2016-2021) through a Joint Financing Arrangement with nine development partners. During the meeting, Development Partners, representatives from the Confederation of Nepalese Teachers and civil society organizations met with the Minister of Education, Mr. Dhaniram Paudel, and representatives of the Education and Finance ministries and the National Planning Commission.
Key results that the Government is expected to achieve during the first year of implementation include the development of a teacher redeployment plan to improve the current imbalance in the teacher to school ratio and the lack of availability of subject teachers in grade 6 upwards, a reduction in the number of out of school children in the districts with the highest disparities in terms of education outcomes, a phased roll out of the national programme to strengthen early grade reading skills, a scholarship scheme for science study in secondary schools that benefits poor students, particularly girls, as well as effective measures to strengthen fiduciary management. Ways to strengthen overall programme management and technical capacity going forward in the SSDP was discussed during the Meeting.
The Meeting particularly noted the uncertainty around the implications on the education sector of the roll-out of the federal structure in the country as well as highlighted the declining trend in the education budget as a percentage of the national budget. Minister of Education, Mr. Paudel, informed the Meeting that the Ministry of Education has formed a Technical Committee to direct the federal restructuring process in the education sector and in order to minimise any gap in capacity at local level. All Development Partners will be informed in a timely manner of any significant changes that might be needed in the SSDP and bilateral agreements. He reasserted that Education was a priority sector for Nepal.
School visits made by a joint team of Government and Development Partners in Jhapa, Ilam and Jajarkot noted a shortfall of teachers in a number of schools. The Government made assurances that this issue will be addressed immediately with a thorough analysis of the student and teacher database. "With the SSDP having a clear quality focus, it is undeniable that adequate numbers of skilled and motivated teachers are a prerequisite. As such, the effective implementation of the teacher rationalization and deployment plan can be seen as the backbone for the quality reform agenda, and its success depends on it. A strong push to ensure these actions are undertaken in a timely manner is of the highest priority" the EU ambassador, H.E. Mrs. Rensje Teerink, stated.
Furthermore, the severe resource gap for reconstruction in the school sector is a major concern. H.E. Mrs. Teerink asserted at the Wrap Up at the Ministry of Finance, "The Budget Review Meeting is also a time to reassess the state of recovery in the school sector. As we raised last November in the Joint Review Meeting, a decline in the initial commitment for recovery of the sector will likely result in recovery taking decades and disparities increasing within this period". Joint Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mr. Baikuntha Aryal, sees the crucial importance of a strong focus on education reconstruction and at the same time he acknowledged that the Government is forced to prioritize housing and shelter at this time, as "this will be the third monsoon that people in the affected areas will be spending under the open sky".
The Local Education Development Partner Group consists of the following partners:
Joint Financing Partners: European Union (Development Partner Focal Point); Finland (Development Partner Co-Focal Point); Asian Development Bank; Australian Embassy; JICA; Royal Norwegian Embassy; UNICEF Nepal; World Bank.
Other Development Partners: UNESCO; USAID; WFP; UNFPA; Association of INGOs (AIN); National Campaign for Education in Nepal (NCE-N); DFID; British Council
For further information, please contact:
Ambar Mainali, Press & Information Officer, EU Delegation to Nepal, 4429445 Ambar.Mainali@eeas.europa.eu