The government has allocated Rs 98.6 billion for the education sector, which is 12 percent of the total national budget for fiscal year 2015/16.
Though the amount allocated for the education sector increased by Rs 12 billion over the Rs 86 billion of last year, the trend of the past one decade shows a steady decline in the budget allocated for education. The share of education in the total budget declined 2 percent from last year and 4 percent since 2012/13. Experts have depicted this as a worrisome trend for the entire social sector in the coming years.
“The downslide in investment in education is an indicator of the government’s neo-liberal policy towards the social sector, which is quite worrisome,” said educationist Kedar Bhakta Mathema in his reaction to the education budget. “The government is consistently trying to cut down its own responsibilities toward the education sector and promote the privatization and commercialization of this social service-oriented sector,” he added.
Most countries in the world spend around 20 percent of their total yearly budget on education.
Meanwhile, the government has addressed some urgent demands of the education sector through the new budget. Golden handshake for temporary teachers, tele-education for students at 100 schools in remote areas and establishment of high-quality residential schools with a view to minimizing the drop-out rate for girls from disadvantaged communities are welcome moves, said Mathema.
Following sluggish movement towards achieving the target of total literacy, the budget also covers the earlier-issued directive of the Ministry of Education to mobilize secondary-level students for conducting adult literacy classes.
Allowing private schools in Kathmandu Valley to handle the management of community schools in remote areas could invite conflicts in future as this move has been made without bringing the issue under discourse, Mathema also said.
The Rs 8 billion allocated for higher education through the University Grants Commission (UGC) is a dismal amount, said the former VC of Tribhuvan University.
“At least 30 percent of the education budget should go for higher education if we are serious about moving from proverty towards a mid-income country,” he added.
• Rs 90 billion of the total education budget for school level and Rs 8 billion for higher education
• Golden handshake for temporary teachers who have served for five years or more
• Residential school in every development region to minimize dropout rate among girls from disadvantaged groups
• Vocational and technical training for 75,000 youths to address the increasing demand for technicians in the Nepali market
• Students of 100 community schools of remote areas to get tele-education facilities through the internet to improve student performance in English, Science and Mathematics
• Mandatory literacy classes twice a week for secondary level students on scholarships
• Valley-based private schools to take over management responsibility for schools in remote areas and operate them as their chapter schools
• Rs 8 billion to universities through the University Grants Commission
• Researchers contributing through their work in disaster, environment and public health to get PhD grants as Prime Minister’s Resource Persons