In Kathmandu: Rajib Upadhya (9771) 4226792/3
In Washington: Erik Nora (202) 4584735
Washington DC, September 22, 2009 – The World Bank will contribute a further US$130 million towards meeting Nepal’s Education for All goals. The School Sector Reform Program approved today is the main vehicle for the implementation of the Government of Nepal’s 15-year National Program of Action. World Bank funding will meet a slice of the program’s expenditures over the next five years – both recurrent and development - covering all levels of school education.
The program focuses on the three pillars of Access, Inclusion and Quality. It is supported by eight other development partners who will also pool their resources, together with the World Bank, and with Government resources. In addition, five “non-pooling partners” will support the program directly. The total cost of the five-year program (2009/10-2013/14) is estimated to be about US$2.6 billion, of which pooled development partners have committed approximately US$500 million.
As a sector wide approach, the program will finance salaries and benefits for nearly 120,000 government school teachers. It will also finance salaries of around 100,000 community recruited teachers through salary grants. Financing for all additional teachers to be recruited during the program period will be made through a per capita child financing formula that takes into account the number of students enrolled in a particular school. The program plans to address the problem of uneven deployment of teachers by providing incentives for teachers to transfer from schools that have too many teachers to those with too few.
The program will also finance a range of activities intended to ensure equitable access and quality basic education for all children in the 5-12 age group, prepare pre- school age children for basic education through Early Childhood Education Development and deliver basic numeracy and literacy to youth and adults, especially women.
“Nepal should be proud of its accomplishments in the education sector,” said Susan Goldmark, World Bank Country Director for Nepal. “In 1951 there were only 10,000 children in primary and secondary schools. Now there are more than 7 million students in more than 30,000 schools throughout the country. Still, much more remains to be done so that schools provide each child with the skills needed to find good jobs and succeed. That is what this partnership with the Ministry of Education and development partners strives to accomplish.”
Because earlier programs were so successful, the demand for quality schooling beyond primary level has soared. To meet this demand and to provide children with skills to prepare them for a life of work, Nepal is now combining the primary and lower secondary cycles to form a basic education cycle of grades 1-8 and a secondary cycle of grades 9-12.
In order to improve the flow of students through the new basic schooling cycle – especially those hardest to reach – the program will finance outreach programs and targeted scholarships, and multi-lingual teachers and learning materials. It will also finance the construction and rehabilitation of classrooms and other school facilities as well as block grants for textbooks and teacher salaries. With these activities, the program aims to increase the Net Enrollment Ratio at primary level to 98 percent from the current 91.8 percent, and at the basic level to 84 percent from the current 75 percent. To improve learning achievement, the program will update textbooks and teacher guides, adopt competency-based systems, and strengthen student assessments, evaluation, and reporting.
“In spite of the difficult political environment Nepal has been able to undertake a series of ground breaking reforms in school education, and the program will take these reforms even further,” said Rajendra Dhoj Joshi, Senior Education Specialist and Co-Task Team Leader at the World Bank. “Nepal has firmly established itself as the world leader in community management of schools. Community management of schools builds upon Nepal’s tradition of community initiative in delivery of education. The credit for significant achievements made in the education sector largely goes to communities. SSRP will accord high priority to enhancing community capacity.”
Given the evidence that children with Early Childhood Education Development (ECED) experience have lower dropout rates, higher completion rates, and are better prepared cognitively, emotionally, and socially when they go to primary school, the program will support the running of some 25,000 existing ECED centers and add about 6,000 new ones.
At the new secondary cycle (grades 9-12), the program will support access through expansion of physical facilities, including classroom construction and rehabilitation, libraries and laboratories, and schools for children with special needs. The program will address equity and inclusion by maintaining scholarship schemes for Dalits, marginalized groups, the disabled, girls, and children from poor households. It will also finance alternative provisions such as open learning centers, non-formal education for adult women, and grant support to traditional schools. In the medium to long run, the program intends to make secondary education free for all children.
“Nepal has made considerable gains in terms of education policies, particularly with the landmark 7th Amendment of the Education Act which returned schools to community ownership and has helped strengthen accountability at the school level,” said Venkatesh Sundararaman, Senior Economist and Co-Task Team Leader at the World Bank. “Other key policies include channeling of funds using per child financing, strengthening of teacher licensing systems, and expanding the role of the private sector in the production and distribution of textbooks. The School Sector Reform Program will strengthen and consolidate these policies which is all the more important in the current context of weakened governance structures in the country.”
However, more than 30 percent of School Leaving Certificate examinees fail to graduate from grade 10, and the average pass rate for students from community schools is around 50 percent. Pass rates at higher secondary level are much worse and are in the range of 25 percent. Given these facts, the program will also aim to improve the quality and relevance of secondary education through development of standards settings for curricula, education materials, teachers, school environment and examination systems. This will also involve gradual integration of grades 9-10 with grades 11-12 to result in full-fledged secondary cycle of grades 9-12. In terms of direct support, the program will finance performance-based grants, textbooks and other non-salary grants to secondary schools.
The World Bank has been a partner to the development of Nepal’s education sector for over 30 years through a series of national programs. These include the Basic and Primary Education Projects I and II, the Community School Support Program, the Higher Education Projects I and II and the Education for All Program.
The project is a blend of credit (US$71.50 million) and grant (US$58.50 million) from the International Development Association, the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm. The credit has 40 years to maturity with a 10-year grace period.
For more project information, please visit http://www.worldbank.org.np/external/projects/main?pagePK=64283627&piPK=73230&theSitePK=223555&menuPK=286969&Projectid=P113441
For more information on the Bank’s work in Nepal: http://www.worldbank.org.np