Nepal's Education Reforms to Meet Demands of Expanding Economy

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Preparations are underway to take Nepal's school system into the next stages of reform and restructuring with new grants that will make the nation's educational programs more responsive to the needs of an expanding economy.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending an $8 million grant for the Education Sector Program Cluster Subprogram II. This will be jointly financed with other education development partners including the European Commission, which intends to provide 6 million euros ($8.7 million) as part of its contribution to the school sector.

The Japan Special Fund is also giving a $600,000 grant to be managed by the ADB for the preparation of the third and final subprogram of the Education Sector Program. The government of Nepal is providing $110,000 to the technical assistance.

The overall objective of the program is to work toward a fair, inclusive, effective and complete education system for Nepal. It also supports Nepal’s Education for All Program for 2004-2009, the framework for basic and primary education in the country.

The second subprogram will support the preparation and transition of the country's public education into an integrated 12-year system - eight years of basic education and four years of secondary education, which is prescribed under the country's school sector reform plan. With the education system under pressure to further improve its services, the government has recognized that the old system of five years of basic education is not sufficient.

"Through the implementation of the second subprogram, Nepal's education system will be in a better position to successfully pursue the school sector reform plan on a countrywide basis in 2009. This will result in an education system capable of providing better quality education that will enhance the educational attainment and livelihoods for children, particularly girls and disadvantaged groups," said Ayako Inagaki, senior education specialist of ADB's South Asia Department.

The final subprogram, which is scheduled to start in 2009, will support the full implementation of the school sector reform plan once it is finalized, financed, and the legal and financing framework is adjusted to a 12-year school system.

The first subprogram, which began in January 2007 and will run until July 2009, supports the Education for All Program and is laying the groundwork for the integration of the current system into the planned 12-year school framework. This subprogram received a $30 million loan and $2 million grant from the ADB.

Nepal is entering a period of economic development as the country recovers from years of conflict following political changes since 2006. As a result, people's expectations and demands in terms of quality education have risen.

"Despite the government's efforts to meet the increasing demand for education, especially at post-primary level, financing problems, a poorly qualified teaching force and institutional weaknesses are slowing down improvements in school education," said Ms. Inagaki.