School Sector Development Programme: Education Ministry to set up mechanism for accountabilityThe Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has decided to set up a separate mechanism for local governments to report about expenditure of the education budget allocated to them.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has decided to set up a separate mechanism for local governments to report about expenditure of the education budget allocated to them.
The decision was made as the ministry failed to receive expenditure and progress reports from 753 local governments despite allocating billions of the rupees under its School Sector Development Programme (SSDP). The programme was implemented two years ago.
Unlike in the past, the local governments elected as per the Constitution of Nepal enjoy independence with no legal obligation to report to federal governments. However, as a significant budget under the SSDP, with came into implementation before the local governments came into being, is contributed by the international donor agencies, the ministry has to report them about the progress and expenditure
Ministry Spokesperson Baikuntha Aryal said the mechanism, to be formed in consent with the Office of Auditor General, will be independent in nature. Out of around Rs700 billion required for the five-year programme, around 20 percent will be contributed by different donor agencies. Currently a consortium of 17 bilateral and multilateral donors is supporting the programme.
The donor agencies have been demanding a proper reporting from the local governments.
They had also raised the issue at the SSDP review meeting on Friday. The programme, which aims to boost the quality of education and strengthen early childhood development education, is basically an extension of the School Sector Reform Programme that concluded in fiscal year 2015/16 without achieving a majority of the targets set during its adoption in 2009.
As the country has made significant progress in terms of access to school education the SSDP, which has also been incorporated in the government’s 14th National Interim Plan, focuses on upgrading the quality. While the government reports show current net-enrolment rate in Grade 1 at 97.2 percent, the average learning achievement of students remains below 50 percent. Different reports by the Education Review Office under the ministry show the quality of school-level education has been degrading in the past few years.
Despite coming into effect more than two years ago, the SSDP still has a funding gap that it aims to cover with donor’s support, the ministry’s records suggest. The government has yet to secure around 2 percent—some Rs14 billion—of the required budget, but Aryal sounded upbeat. “We’ve received the positive response from donor agencies. So, managing the budget shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.