Investment on education up

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, May 19:

Investment on education sector has increased to 15 per cent of the national budget in 2004, from a mere nine per cent in the early 1980s.

Education sector has been given priority in government plans and programmes. It has also been mentioned in the government’s main poverty reduction strategy, namely Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and the 10th Five Year Plan documents.

The government’s total spending on education stands at 3.5 per cent of the GDP as per the ministry of education report 2002. Education is the largest sub-sector of the government, according to budget allocation. In addition, the education sector expenditure features as a top priority in the government’s medium-term expenditure framework, indicating continuing commitment to education expenditures, says the survey.

Public expenditures on education, as a proportion of GDP in Nepal, are comparable with rates in other countries in the South Asian region. India allocates about four per cent of its GDP to education, Sri Lanka about 3.1 per cent and Bangladesh about 2.5 per cent on education.

Although Nepal’s resource allocation relative to GDP is commensurate with those of other countries, Nepal’s GNP is the lowest in the region. Hence, Nepal spends very little per child on the public system. Nepal’s per capita expenditure on public education of $21 per annum as per 1996-97 figures are the lowest in the region, which is around half of India’s budget.

Due to government’s commitment on education, donors have shown strong support in education sector investment. According to a survey, it has been found that donors fund more than half of all education expenditure, with significant contributions coming from the international development association (IDA), Denmark, Finland, Norway and more recently the Department of International Development (DFID).

Basic education accounts for a majority, or almost 60 per cent of the total education expenditures that includes primary education, technical and vocational education, and the school feeding programme, non-formal education, scholarship programme, women’s education, special education, population education and distance education.

The largest component of basic education is primary education, which accounts for 53 per cent of the total education budget. Secondary education accounts for 23 per cent and higher education for 20 per cent of overall education expenditures.