“1.5 million more Nepalese girls now attend school. Twenty years ago most of them would have stayed at home.” This was the banner that met Copenhagen and her inhabitants on their way to work in September this year. In huge banners hanging on the wall of the Danish Foreign Ministry, the good news of the achievements in Nepal, thanks to the Danish support, was broadcast in the Danish communication campaign: ‘World Best News’.
For more than twenty years Denmark has supported Nepal’s education sector with around DKK 50 million every year. At the same time the support for Danish Development Assistance has continued. In a recent opinion poll, 65 percent of Danish people are supporting the high level Danish Development Assistance. With the adoption of the National budget for 2015 the support will increase from 0.83 of Danish gross national income to 0.87 percent.
Better education in Nepal has been the primary focus in Danish development assistance in Nepal over the years. Several years of engagement has brought many good results.
The number of girls finishing 10th grade has almost doubled since 1991. This development is important for Nepal. When girls go to school, when they graduate and when they continue with higher education, it benefits families and the national economy. These achievements are important for Nepal and serves as an excellent example of how Danish taxpayer’s money contributes to tangible results.
Throughout the years of supporting the education sector in Nepal the focus has been on the following three elements: Bringing more children into school, retaining children for more years and improving the education quality. The aim is to create a better and more functioning school system with better textbooks, better facilities, trained teachers and initiatives to change the education system.
At the same time the Danish support has been instrumental in the institutional development of Ministry of Education. This leaves the Ministry in a much better positon to deliver results in terms of developing sector plans, reports and documenting results. Working around poor infrastructure, poverty, and social inequality have been obstacles we have met along the way and continue to be the major issues in Nepal.
‘World Best News’
‘World Best News’ is a Danish news campaign created by the UN, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs development agency DANIDA, in collaboration with 100 Danish development organizations and 90 corporate partners. In Denmark recent extensive polling has shown that the Danes in general are more skeptical about how our development assistance actually contributes to fight global poverty and achieve results. In addition it also reveals that the public, in general, has less or inadequate knowledge about challenges, dilemmas and results related to Danish development assistance.
World’s Best News took off in 2010 with the purpose of informing the Danes about the global progress in the developing countries. The message was clear: To collect all the good news that otherwise tend to disappear and to focus on the successes instead of humanitarian conflict and disasters. For the second year in a row the achievements in Nepal was featured and this year the focus was on education support.
Today Denmark has phased out of the support in education. However, Denmark is still committed towards sector reform in education system in Nepal through other channels, including as a member of the European Union and support to its programs, and with education support to several global programs.
Today Denmark’s development engagement in Nepal is focused on peace, rights and good governance, green and renewable energy, inclusive growth and business cooperation. We will continue to focus on creating tangible results, which can be communicated and disseminated to the Danish public and taxpayers. This is about public accountability and informing the public why long-term development assistance is important and how it contributes to achieving national development goals in Nepal and to the overall global development goals.
Note: This article was published in Republica National daily on 21 October, 2014. The author, KIRSTEN GEELAN, is Ambassador of Denmark in Nepal