Schools lack money to buy textbooks as local governments fail to disburse funds


The Kathmandu Post

KATHMANDU : The federal government on Monday announced a nationwide enrollment campaign to bring thousands of children to the school system and provide the full set of textbooks to them on the first day of classes. However, local governments have not disbursed the budget to schools, forcing them to start the enrollment campaign without textbooks.

The Education Ministry has already released the budget to local governments for buying textbooks for students.Post file Photo

The Centre for Education and Human Resource Development under the Ministry of Education had already released the budget to the local governments for buying textbooks for students.
Even schools in the Capital haven’t received the budget and are yet to get a clear answer when they will get the money for the textbooks. 

The government has been providing the budget for free distribution of textbooks to all the students of public schools. Some five million students study in around 29,000 state-run schools across the country.

According to records at the Education Ministry, around 91,000 children are out of the school system. The Centre, through district education offices, used to allocate budget to schools in the respective districts before the country adopted the federal system of governance. 

With local governments getting the authority to manage the schools in the new system, the federal government sends the budget to local governments, which then release funds to the schools within their area.

Kalpana Sharma, a teacher at Deependra Secondary School in Gadhawa Rural Municipality of Dang district, told the Post that she could not say when they will be able to distribute textbooks to students. “The enrolment campaign has started without textbooks,” she said in a phone interview. The schools will have to start classes from the end of this month.

Local government officials attribute the failure to allocate the budget for schools to the unavailability of data on the number of students and lack of account officers. “We are waiting for the actual data of students from respective schools to release the budget,” said Nirmala KC, chief of the education unit at Kathmandu Metropolitan City. “I believe it won’t take long.”

Teachers at some of the schools in the city, however, countered the metropolis’ claim. Sita Dhakal, principal of Jana Bikash School in Balkhu, said she sent the data about students in her school about a month ago but her school still hasn’t received the budget. “There could be other reasons than lack of data,” she told the Post.

Traditionally, schools have been getting 75 percent of the budget for textbooks based on the number of students enrolled in the previous year. The remaining money is reimbursed based on the actual enrolment figures, which is generally determined by the end of April. 

Rameshor Shrestha, the mayor of Mahalaxmi Municipality in Lalitpur, said they were ready to stand guarantee for the payment on behalf of schools to buy textbooks as a stopgap measure. “Our hands are tied, as we haven’t had account officers in the municipality for months,” he told the Post. 

“We have asked all the schools in our municipality to buy books on credit until we release the budget. We are ready to issue a written guarantee for it.”