Participatory and democratic process of forming governance structure at the local level in Nepal
School management committees (SMC) have existed in Nepalese public schools for a very long time. But, the formation of SMC has been highly bureaucratic and political until 2001 where SMC members were either handpicked by bureaucrats or local politicians. There was little or no opportunity for true parents or local community members to be represented on the committee.
In 2001, the government took a bold step by amending its Education Act which makes the formation of SMC mandatory in all types of schools whether they are public or private. In public schools, the SMC comprises 10 members who have a tenure of three years. The parent representatives are elected through election. Every school prepares the list eligible voters from among the parents or guardians of children attending schools. The parent assembly finalizes the list of SMC. This prevents local elites or non-parents becoming officials of the SMC. The composition of the SMC includes a chairperson and 3 members, including a woman member elected from among the parents. In cases where parents have consensus on who should become SMC chairperson or members, election may not take place. The head teacher serves as the secretary of the SMC. This group of people then nominates one member from among local educationists, one member from among school’s founders, and one from among the donors. The member of the municipality or village committee of the concerned unit serves as the ex-officio member. This arrangement has brought visible changes in school management in terms of local participation in decision-making.
The Education Act of Nepal provides meaningful roles to the SMC. The SMC is authorized to mobilize resources for school operation, appoint or deploy teachers, approve school budget, form Parent Teacher Association (PTA), appoint members for the social audit of the school, formulate school improvement plans, etc. One study has reported that SMCs have contributed to school contributed to school improvement in terms of physical development, information management, and teaching learning process.