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Political parties join forces for Free Education for All

© UNICEF Nepal/2012
UNICEF Nepal deputy representative, Will Parks giving his remarks during the event

Kathmandu 14 October 2012: “An empowered child is a confident citizen. They are the pillars of the future of any nation. Therefore, it is our responsibility as duty bearers to ensure their quality education.” This message from Dr. Will Parks, UNICEF Nepal’s Deputy Representative, ran as a theme during a review on Free and Compulsory Education in Nepal.

The Minister of Education, the Honourable Mr Dinanath Sharma, was the Chief Guest at the event - part of a four-year policy level dialogue organised by Educational Pages with support from UNICEF and Department of Education. The event brought together more than 20 political leaders, 10 government officials, teachers from various districts and development partners to share their views on providing free and compulsory education in Nepal.

The dialogue was initiated by female ex-Constituent assembly members under the UNGEI banner. The female network focuses on gender equity in education and conducts various level of advocacy from grass roots level to policy.

Dr. Kedar Bhakta Mathema, the key note speaker at the event, said: “We found out from our field research that transparency is one of the major concerns in education. Some schools were appointing staff not on their merits but because they were relatives. As monitoring and evaluation is very weak in the sector, we need to perhaps focus on where our loopholes are. We should try and understand the set-up of our education system and fill those gaps and not just make Free Education for All for the sake of popularity.”

All political leaders present at the meeting spoke in one voice; they said education should be steered-clear of politicisation. They also raised issues on resource distribution, administration challenges, emergency services, private versus state run schools, disability friendly learning environment and the overall quality of education in Nepal.

Only 47% of the students passed the Student Leaving Certificate (SLC) this year. Although the enrolment rate to basic education is very high, the survival rate to grade 5 is only 80.6%, to grade 8 it is only 66%. Access to secondary education for girls and boys is only at 83.7%.  This means that many children are out of school. It is estimated that 651,000 children of aged 5-14 are out of school (Nepal Standard Living Survey – 2008).

Speaking at the event, Dr. Will Parks emphasized further on the need to work together: “The Education sector in Nepal has made excellent progress in the last decade. However, there are still challenges that we all need to address together. Quality of education is an area of concern. But the main and most important mantra for addressing equity is to adopt a free and compulsory education with proper implementation strategies so that even a child from most disadvantaged community will enroll in school with full confidence.”



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