Education budget courts criticism


The Kathmandu Post

KATHMANDU : The National Campaign for Education, an umbrella body of 339 organisations working for the promotion of public education, has said that the government failed to take any tangible steps to meet its global commitment to allocate 20 percent of the national budget in the education sector. 

The budget for the fiscal year 2019-20, presented by Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada on Wednesday, has not allocated enough resource for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Education, which  envisions ensuring inclusive and quality education, the campaign said in a statement on Thursday.
“We demand that the government allocate at least 20 percent budget in the education sector and ensure local and provincial governments get adequate budget,” said the statement issued by Kumar Bhattarai, chairperson of the campaign.

The campaign has also questioned the government’s commitment to improve the quality of education in public schools for not publicising the report of the High Level National Education Commission. 

Despite repeated demands from members of the commission and non-government educational organisations, the government is yet to make public the report that was submitted four months ago.

The commission had handed over the report to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in the presence of Minister for Education, Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokharel on January 15. 

The report was prepared to create the basis for the formulation of an education policy in the changed political context.The campaign has also criticised the budget for giving little attention to local governments, which bear the entire responsibility of managing school education. 

“The tendency to keep maximum share of the budget under the prerogative of the federal government shows it is not interested in strengthening the local government,” reads the statement.

Only around one-third of the national budget has been earmarked to the local and provincial governments.Overall, the total budget to be received by the provincial and local governments for the next fiscal year stands at Rs 464 billion, which is 30 percent of the Rs 1.53 trillion budget.

Seven provincial governments and 753 local units received 33.66 percent of the national budget in the running fiscal year. Prior to the budget formulation, a delegation led by the campaign had met with Minister Khatiwada and drew his attention to Nepal’s global commitment to allocate at least one-fifth of the national budget or—6.5 percent of the GDP—in the education sector. 

The government failed to keep the pledge while presenting the national budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The campaign has welcomed some aspects of the education budget such as midday meal scheme, education in mother tongue, disabled-friendly infrastructure, scholarship for girls and free distribution of sanitary pads in schools as progressive steps.