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3.2.2 Progress in Public Expenditure on Primary Education

Two of the 18 EFA indicators are related to public financing of primary education (see Table 11).

Table 11. Public Expenditure on Primary Education (1991-1997)

INDICATORS

1991

1995

1997

Indicator 7: Public current expenditure on primary education as: (a) a percentage of GNP; and (b) per pupil as percentage of GNP per-capita
  1. 0.8
  2. 5.1

1.3

7.9

1.4

8.8

Indicator 8: Public expenditure on primary education as a percentage of total public expenditure on education

46.77

50.87

52.21

Source: MOF & MOE

Table 11 indicates that in 1991, HMG spent 0.8% of the GNP on primary education. This was increased to 1.3% in 1995 and 1.4% in 1997. Similarly, per pupil expenditure as a percentage of GNP per capita reached 8.8% in 1997. These figures indicate a rise in public funding of primary education in the 1990s.

Table 12 shows that the percentage of total budget on education has increased from the 10% level to 12% in 1991/92 and has stabilised at about 13% in the 1990s.

Table 12. Percentage of Total Budget on Education (1985-2000)

Year

1985-1990

1991/92

1992-1997

1997/98

1998/99

1999/2000

Percent of Total Budget

10.01

12.03

13.55

13.76

12.5

13.2

Note: 1997/98 Revised Budget Estimates; 1998/99 Budget Estimates. Source: Red Book (Ministry of Finance) of different years

In the same way the, government budget for primary education as a proportion of the total government budget for education has remained high compared to the budget allocated for other levels (see Table 12). The budget for primary education has remained steady at about 50% in the 1990s, slightly increasing from below 50% in the early 1990s to above 50% in the following years.

Figure 5. Public Expenditure on Primary Education (1991-1997)

Source: MOPE, MOE, and Educational Statistics of Nepal (1991-1997)

The trend of seven years' expenditure shows a steady progress in the indicator values from the pre-1992 period to post-1992 period. This progress corresponds to the EFA implementation campaign. Two important national projects—the Basic and Primary Education Project (BPEP) and the Primary Education Development Project (PEDP)— launched in 1992, have contributed to this steady growth.

Primary education, as basic education, has been made free since 1975 up to Grade 3, and from 1981 up to Grade 5. The operating cost of primary education has been totally financed by His Majesty's Government. However, 95% of the government support is accounted for by the teachers' salaries alone. In the year 1997, the government spent NRs. 4,155.1 million on 3,460,756 primary school students, resulting in a per-student expenditure of NRs. 1,200.63.

Data indicate the fact that there has been steady increase in allocation to primary education sub-sector (see Table 13). However, due to the lack of sufficient funds, even a certain portion of the outlay on education is borne by external assistance.

Table 13. Budget Estimates, by Sub-sector (in millions of rupees)

   

1991/92

1997/98

S.N.

Sub-sector

Amount

%

Amount

%

1. Primary Education

1,588.4

48.6

4,155.1

51.2

2. Secondary Education

424.6

13.0

1,702.2

21.0

3 Higher Secondary Education

0.0

0.0

13.9

0.2

4 Technical and Vocational Education

54.3

1.07

133.7

1.6

5 Higher Education

902.2

27.6

1,700.5

21

6 Non-Formal Education

19.7

0.6

120.0

1.5

7 Others

277.8

8.5

2,840.2

3.5

  Total

3,268.0

100.0

8,114.9

100

Source: MOE, and Educational Statistics of Nepal (1991-1997)

Figure 6. Budget Estimates, by Sub-sector (1991-1997)

Source: MOE, and Educational Statistics of Nepal (1991-1997)

There has been a growing trend in international assistance to educational development in Nepal. In 1990/91, the percentage of international assistance to education was less than 10% of the total educational expenditure. This figure reached about 25% in 1995/96.

According to the government budget (Red Book) of 1999/2000, grants constitute about 57.7% of the foreign aid in the current education budget. The following Table 14 shows the progress in the international assistance in loans and the grants during the 1990s.

Table 14. International Assistance to Educational Development in Nepal (in NRs. ten millions)

1990/91 1991/92 1992/93 1993/94 1994/95 1995/96 1996/97 1997/98
Grant

3.08

5.82

57.3

16.5

45.2

46.46

85.18

47.7

Loan

9.14

14.69

13.93

45.21

86.68

85.3

93.39

92.36

Total

12.22

20.51

71.23

61.71

131.88

131.76

178.57

140.06

Source: Economic Survey (1999), MOF

3.2.3 Progress on Teacher Provision

Teacher provision, quality of the teachers and teacher training are the fundamental aspects for achieving the EFA goals and targets. Three indicators have been identified to evaluate the progress on teacher provision. Table 15 presents the proportion of qualified primary school teachers and the pupil:teacher ratio in three specific time points. Indicator 10—the percentage of primary school teachers who are certified—is not applicable in Nepal, as a nationwide certification system has not yet been established.

Table 15. Indicators on Teacher Provision

INDICATORS

1991

1995

1997

Indicator 9: Percentage of primary school teachers having the required academic qualifications

93.9

95.8

96.4

Indicator 10: Percentage of primary school teachers who are certified to teach according to national regulations

NA

NA

NA

Indicator 11: Pupil:teacher ratio

39

39

38

 

As can be seen from Table 15, the percentage of teachers with basic entry qualifications is nearing 100% and the pupil:teacher ratio is favourable at around 38% to 39%. The pupil:teacher ratio has not significantly changed between 1991 and 1997. There is a slight regional variation in the pupil:teacher ratio. In 1997, it ranged from the lowest in Kathmandu (26) to the highest in the Terai (46). It is highest in the Far Western Region (42), and 37/38 elsewhere. There is also a variation in the pupil-teacher ratio between public and private schools. In private schools, the ratio is below 26, whereas in the case of public schools, it goes as high as 50. It is interesting to note here that the gender parity index as the ratio of the qualified-teacher percentage is almost 1. This ratio of the actual numbers of female and male teachers is very low. The gender parity in terms of teacher numbers was 0.29 in 1997, and was only 0.16 in 1991. This rise in gender parity is mainly due to the government policy to recruit at least one female teacher in each primary school.

In Nepal, teacher licensing is not practised yet. However, teacher certificate training has been conducted by the Ministry of Education under the National Centre for Educational Development (NCED). There are now nine training centres distributed in nine different sectors of the country. The training consists of four 2.5-month packages, totalling 10 training months. Those who complete the 10 months of training are given certificates and are considered to be trained teachers. In the future, there will be a teacher certification programme based on this training.

At present, about 50% of primary teachers have received in-service training, short-term or long-term. Those having the minimum prescribed training of 10 months constitute only 30%. The rest of the teachers have received short-term training only.

3.2.4 Progress on Internal Efficiency

Three specific indicators have been identified for assessing the progress towards internal efficiency in primary education. Table 16 presents repetition rates of Grade 1 and 5 students, survival rates to Grade 5, and coefficients of internal efficiency of primary education in three specific time points (years).

Table 16. Indicators of Internal Efficiency of Primary Education

INDICATORS

1992

1994

1996

Indicator 12: Repetition rates at Grade 1 and 5

Grade 1: 41

Grade 5: 18.0

Grade 1: 41.9

Grade 5: 17.4

Grade 1: 41.7

Grade 5: 21.3

Indicator 13: Survival rate to Grade 5

43.6

45.3

44.4

Indicator 14: Coefficient of efficiency to Grade 5

41.1

42.1

40.5

The internal efficiency of Nepalese primary education is very low. Table 16 indicates a high repetition rate of above 40% of Grade 1 students in 1992, 1994 and 1996. That of Grade 5 students also remained quite high (around 20%) in these years. In other grades, the repetition rates in 1996 are 24.6%, 19.7%, 20.6%, and 21.3% for Grades 2, 3, 4 and 5 respectively. The repetition rates remained almost same throughout the period of 1992 to 1996 (see Figure 7 ).

Figure 7. Repetition Rates in Primary Education, by Grade (1992-1996)

Source: MOE, and Educational Statistics of Nepal (1991-1997)

Student drop-out rate is highest in 1996 at Grade 1 (23.1%), followed by 15.1% in Grade 5 (see Figure 8 ). In Grades 2, 3, and 4, the drop-out rates are 4.6%, 8.2% and 9% respectively. Like the repetition rate, drop-out rates did not change considerably over the period from 1992 to 1996. The annual examination for grade promotion, under-age enrollment in Grade 1, and poor school and classroom environments account for the high drop-out and repetition rates.

Figure 8. Drop-out Rates in Primary Education, by Grade (1992-1996)

Source: MOE, and Educational Statistics of Nepal (1991-1997)

Because of the high repetition and drop-out rates in lower grades, especially in Grade 1, the survival rate up to Grade 5 is rather very poor (44.4%). It indicates that the majority of children dropped out of school before completing the primary education cycle.

Consequently, the coefficient of internal efficiency is grossly low for the primary education system in Nepal—in 1996, it was 46.3% for up to Grade 4 and 40.5% for up to Grade 5. These figures are lower than those in 1988: 52.5% and 45.6% for up to Grade 4 and up to Grade 5 respectively. The efficiency percentages are found to fluctuate from 45% to 52.5% for up to Grade 4 and between 40% and 46% for up to Grade 5.

One of the major causes of the high repetition rate is the enrollment of under-age children in Grade 1. It was discussed earlier that the net intake rate at Grade 1 was only 53.75%, whereas the gross intake rate was 129.8% in 1997. Enrollment of the under-age children mostly accounts for the disparity.

Although the official entry age at Grade 1 is six years old, the problem of under-age children accompanying their elder siblings to the schools could not be curbed. In view of the problem of the under-age children getting enrolled in Grade 1, Shishu Kakshya (pre-school classes) have been initiated under the Basic and Primary Education Programme.

The high repetition rate, drop-out rate, and the coefficient of efficiency are of higher concerns. It is more alarming because of the persistence of the problems throughout 1990s. As the access to primary education is expanded and more children are enrolled in the schools, it is likely that the new expansion of access has brought in more children from disadvantaged communities. In these communities, schooling is a new experience for children as well as their parents. This could be one of the reasons for the persistence of the problem.

The other reason for such high rates of repetition and drop-out pertains to the quality of the school environment and classroom practices. Since most of the teachers are not trained, classroom interaction and other activities are likely to be sub-standard. Furthermore, there is no provision for giving training on social sensitivity to teachers, administrators and other concerned people. This has led to creating an unfavourable school environment for the children from disadvantaged communities. Disadvantaged people do not foresee any promising future prospects from education.

Development of an appropriate school environment is rather a challenging task, notwithstanding the several steps being taken by the government in the form of school improvement plans under BPEP.

3.3 IMPROVEMENT IN LEARNING ACHIEVEMENT

Nepal has not carried out a comprehensive study to determine the nationally-defined basic level of learning competencies of Grade 4 students. It was not possible, therefore, to include information about the achievement level of students according to the generally-agreed format. Instead of reporting about the level of competence of Grade 4 students, Grade 5 student achievement is included here.

Grade 5 student achievement is included here for two reasons. Firstly, in Nepal it is a highly significant grade because it is the primary education level completion grade and therefore achievement of the students of this grade indicates the achievement level of the primary education completers. Secondly, a national assessment of Grade 5 students was being carried out during the EFA assessment 2000 period and the data could be used to represent Indicator 15.

It should be noted here that so far in Nepal, basic learning competencies in terms of skill and abilities have been a topic of research and remain short of national norms. In this connection, it was decided that for the present purpose achievement of 30%, which is the standard minimum score mark for passing a school test in any subject, would be used to indicate basic learning competency. It is understood that it does not mean much in terms of basic skills and abilities.

The national-level achievement test at Grade 5 was conducted on three subjects: Nepali, mathematics and social studies. The following is a discussion of the study outcomes related to Indicator 15.

3.3.1 Progress in Indicators

Table 17. Grade 5 Achievement Test Scores and Basic Learning Competencies

INDICATORS

1999

Indicator 15

Subject

Mean achievement

Basic Learning Competencies

(% of the students scoring 33 or more)

Nepali

51.46

90.00

Mathematics

27.25

36.40

Social Studies

41.79

78.10

Table 17 indicates a wide variation in students' achievement in three subjects. In Nepali, the mean of students' score is around 50% whereas in the other two subjects it was lower. The mean score in mathematics is the lowest.

Taking into consideration the type of tests developed and used in this study, based on the expected learning outcomes of the curriculum, it can be concluded that students' achievement is poor in mathematics.

Statistically significant differences have been found in the mean scores of boys and girls (see Table 18). In Nepali, girls performed significantly better than boys, whereas in mathematics and social studies, boys performed better.

Table 18. Grade 5 Learning Achievement Test Scores, by Sex

 

Mean score

BLC

Sex

Nepali

Maths

Social Studies

Nepali

Maths

Social Studies

Male

50.88

29.56

42.26

89.00

42.90

77.80

Female

52.12

24.64

41.26

91.10

29.00

78.50

Source EDSC (1999)

There are slight variations in the mean achievement as well as in the BLC level across the five development regions and three ecological regions of the country as the following table shows:

Table 19. Grade 5 Learning Achievement Test Scores, by Region and Ecological Zone

 

Mean score

BLC

Region and Eco-zone

Nepali

Maths

Social Studies

Nepali

Maths

Social Studies

National

51.46

27.25

41.79

90.00

36.40

78.10

Eastern Region

51.32

31.40

42.17

86.70

45.90

77.20

Central Region

51.91

30.09

41.72

84.10

43.00

71.80

Western Region

52.89

24.26

43.68

95.10

29.60

85.70

Mid-Western Region

50.78

21.25

38.87

94.60

22.70

75.30

Far Western region

49.71

26.77

39.04

92.50

36.50

79.20

Mountain

53.76

27.66

42.29

93.90

38.10

81.40

Hill

52.95

24.91

44.22

95.40

30.50

84.60

Terai

46.91

28.49

36.87

80.50

40.00

66.30

Valley

62.74

36.29

51.17

98.30

55.40

93.10

Urban

53.29

27.08

43.58

91.80

36.50

83.40

Rural

50.91

27.30

41.25

89.40

36.40

76.50

Kathmandu Valley

68.60

42.12

50.41

99.60

73.00

96.30

Source: EDSC (1999)

Table 19 indicated a considerable variation in students' achievement by Development Region as well as by ecological zone. There is no distinct pattern in terms of any particular region doing better in all the three subjects. However, the Western Region and Eastern Region are relatively better than Mid-Western and Far Western Regions in one subject or another. Similarly, the students of the Terai are poor in the Nepali language and social studies, whereas they are better in mathematics. Moreover, the students of urban areas are better than students of rural areas in Nepali and social studies.

The study also made a comparison of private and public schools of Kathmandu Valley and the result indicated a better performance on the part of private schools in Nepali and social studies.

Basic learning competencies can be defined in various ways and the tests conducted accordingly. A sample study conducted by CERID in seven districts defined Basic Learning Competencies as the basic level reading, writing, mathematical and life skills. Students who have completed Grade 5 were administered separate tests requiring them to read from the specified simple language write-ups, write simple text, perform simple arithmetic and answer simple life-related questions. Following are the results obtained:

Table 20. Achievement Test Scores in Basic Learning Competencies, by Sex

 

Nepali

     
 

Reading

Writing

Mathematics

Life Skills

CS*

Total

93.18

43.18

83.77

83.12

32.47

Male

94.90

44.59

85.99

82.80

33.12

Female

91.39

41.72

81.46

83.44

31.79

*CS refers to Composite Score, i.e., pupils achieving passing score.

Source: CERID (1998)

Figure 9. Achievement Test Scores in Basic Learning Competencies, by Sex

Source: CERID (1998)

The results of this sample test are not far from the recently-conducted national achievement-based BLC test in reading of the Nepali language. However, the test also showed that when it comes to writing, the children did not score high. This may be due to the lower level of achievement in conventional tests in Grade 5, which are based on writing.

A study of the national achievement level of Grade 3 students was conducted in 1997. It was a sample-based study in 15 districts, five districts each from three ecological zones: mountain, hill and Terai. The test focussed on three major subjects: Nepali, mathematics and social studies, called Serofero. The following are the national mean achievements:

Table 21. Grade 3 Achievement Test Scores

Subject

Mean achievement

Nepali

45.65

Mathematics

43.81

Serofero

50.37

Source EDSC (1997)

The national achievement level of Grade 3 students in Nepali, mathematics and Serofero was within the 41 to 50 score range.

It could be argued that although the children's achievement in terms of writing is poor, this does not necessarily indicate their actual capabilities. However, it has consequences on the passing of grade promotion of the students. It has to be noted that only about 45% of the children who are enrolled in Grade 1 complete up to Grade 5. At Grade 5, only about 65% of the students pass and become eligible for Grade 6. The following table shows the pass rate of Grade 5 from 1992/93 to 1996/97.

Table 22. Promotion Rate of Grade 5 Students (1992-1997)

1992/93 1993/94 1994/95 1995/96 1996/97
Total

68.1

63.5

67.0

67.1

63.6

Girls

64.1

63.2

66.8

65.4

60.9

Source: Educational Statistics of Nepal, MOE

3.4 REDUCTION OF THE ADULT ILLITERACY RATE AND GENDER DISPARITY IN EDUCATION

The literacy rate in Nepal as expressed in various documents including the NPA, the Eighth Plan and the Ninth Plan refers to the literacy situation of the population of 6+ years. Nevertheless, the literacy rates of various age groups are available for 1991 from the census and for 1997 from the NMIS study cycle 5. The indicator-based information is based on the 1991 Census Report and the 1997 study.

In terms of the EFA literacy indicator, which is the literacy rates of 15-24 year age group and 15+ year age group, the following developments are observed:

Table 23. Literacy Rates and Gender Parity of Populations 15-24 Years and 15+ Years (1991/1997)

INDICATORS

1991 1997
Indicator 16: Literacy rate of population 15-24 years old 49.6 67.4
Indicator 17: Literacy rate of population 15+ years old 33.0 44.8

Indicator 18: Gender parity index (female to male literacy rate)

population 15-24 years old

population 15+ years old

 

0.48

0.35

 

0.67

0.44

According to 1991 census, the literacy rate of the population 15-24 years old was 49.6% (male 62% and female 37%), whereas the literacy rate of the population 15 years and above is only 33% (male 49.2% and female 17.4%). From 1991 to 1997, there has been an increase in the literacy rate by 17.4% for the 15-24 year age group, whereas for the 15+ year age group the increase is only 11.8%. For the 6+ year age group the increase is 8.3%. This shows that the literacy programme has benefited the population group of 15-24 years in 1997. The gender parity data (Indicator 18) show a positive development towards gender balance, which is prominent in 1997 among the age group of 15-24 years.

In 1991, the urban literacy rate for 6+ age group was 66.9%, whereas the rural literacy rate was 36%. There is no rural/urban data available for 1997 for this age group. For the 15+ age group, the urban and rural literacy figures are 68.2% and 43.5%. The urban and rural literacy percentages for 15-24 year age group are 84.8% and 66.5% respectively. These figures show that there has been improvement in terms of decreasing the rural and urban gap in terms of literacy. The situation is best among the 15-24 year age group.

Table 24. Literacy Rate, by Development Region and Ecological Zone (1991 and 1997)

 

1991

1997

Age group

15+

15+

15-24

15-24

Nepal

33.0

44.8

49.6

67.4

Eastern Region

37.6

44.6

55.7

68.4

Central Region

32.8

39.1

48.8

60.7

Western Region

34.9

55.7

56.8

82.8

Mid-Western Region

25.8

26.8

38.3

53.0

Far Western Region

26.5

35.1

38.1

52.9

Mountain

27.2

38.0

42.2

61.6

Hill

32.0

49.1

50.3

74.5

Terai

30.8

36.6

45.8

55.2

Kathmandu Valley

60.6

NA

75.9

NA

Urban

NA

68.2

NA

84.8

Rural

NA

43.5

NA

66.5

Source: CBS Census 1991, and NMIS, Cycle 5

Similarly, there is variation in the literacy rate in different Development Regions. In 1991, the Eastern Region was leading in literacy among the 15+ year age group, whereas the Western Region was marginally leading among the 15-24 year age group. In 1997, the Western Region was far ahead of the others in the 15-24 year age group and was marginally leading among the 15+ year age group. Mid-Western and Far Western Regions of the country have lagged behind in the national literacy rate in 1991 as well as in 1997.

Similarly, the literacy situations of the mountains and the Terai are low. The growth in literacy percentage of the Terai is small compared to other ecological zones.

According to the NMIS survey, literacy rates are higher in younger age groups. The literacy rate for the 6-9 year age group was 47%, 63.2% for the 10-14 year age group, and 54.7% for the 15-19 year age group. After 15-19 years, there are sharp declines in literacy rates for each successive five-year age group. The lowest literacy rate (13.6%) was found among the 60-64 year age group.


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