Nepal has expressed its commitment in the international funding conference of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to scale up the budget toward education to up to 20 percent of the total national budget.
The Ministry of Education made this commitment in the context of low budget being allocated to the education sector in the last couple of years. There is widespread concern that the quality of public education has dwindled due to the inadequate investment in education for attaining the Goal Number 4 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The current budget amount that is set aside to the education sector in the national budget is considered inadequate. The national budget of the current fiscal year has allocated Rs 1.278 trillion for the education sector, which is 10.97 percent of the total national budget.
Education budget is inadequate as nearly 85 percent of the total budget allocated to education sector is spent in the salary of teachers. More, there is the problem of opaqueness in budget spending and irregularities in several districts.
In the conference, Nepal has expressed the commitment to increase the budget towards education sector to 20 percent of the national budget and also to supplement this budget with the 4.4 billion US Dollars to be received from the international donor countries and organisations.
Education Secretary Madhu Prasad Regmi and Director General at the Department of Education Baburam Poudel represented Nepal in the GCE funding conference held on February 2 in Dakar, Senegal.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Education Dr Hari Prasad Lamsal said although his ministry has been expressing its commitment in the international and national forums to increase the education budget, it was quite a challenging job to have it in the priority of the National Planning Commission and the Ministry of Finance.
“We are always willing to increase the budget for education whenever there is possibility of getting the finds that we ask for with the Ministry of Finance. The Finance Ministry has to be positive for that,” Lamsal said.
Educationalists and independent economists have been suggesting that investment in education should be increased by mobilizing local resources through coordination among the federal, provincial and local level governments with the adoption of federalism in the country.
Civil society representatives from the developing countries including Nepal who participated in the conference voiced for guaranteeing quality, inclusive, equitable and life skills based education in line with the SDGs.
National Campaign for Education Nepal (NCE-Nepal) President Kumar Bhattarai who attended the GCE conference said the government expressing its commitment to increase the budget for education sector is a positive step.
In the conference, various developed countries committed more than 2.3 billion US dollars for education until 2020, which is an encouraging amount compared to the amount committed in the last GCE conference held in 2014.
The developing countries have, in this conference, pledged to invest approximately 30 billion US dollars from their internal resources in the education sector.