Probe finds systemic flaws in teachers quota allotment

KATHMANDU: A three-member probe team formed by the government has pointed out a number of irregularities in distribution of relief quota teachers.

Dr Tirtha Raj Khaniya, a member of the National Planning Commission, who led the probe into the case, said no set directives were followed while distributing the quota. “We’ve recommended action against officials who were directly involved in distributing the teachers’ quota,” he told The Himalayan Times. “The probe team has suggested that the slots fulfiled without the involvement of District Education Committees (DEC) be undone.”

Dr Lavadev Awasthi, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Education, who is another member of the probe team, said there had been a systemic flaw in the process. “We found policy gaps as well as legal inadequacies in the education system. All the distribution was carried out by following only some criteria, which were not stable in themselves,” he said. “Functional delivery also lacked efficiency. All the quota distributed this year were supposed to be doled out last fiscal year.”

He said the ministry was discussing options for lifting the suspension of relief quota distribution. After receiving the report last Friday, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal is said to have instructed education minister Sarbendra Nath Shukla to take lead in implementing the recommendations. Dr Awasthi said discussions were being held among ministry officials regarding implementation. Asked what future course of action the ministry would take, he said necessary policy and legal framework would be prepared and adequate data be maintained so that there can be clarity in the requirement of teachers in all the districts.

“Without sufficient data, the actual need could not be assessed. It also created difficulty in providing per capita funding (PCF),” he clarified. In the PCF system, the government builds infrastructure and provides monetary support on the basis of the number of students studying in a school, the number of classes run and the number of subjects taught.

The committee found that mistakes had occurred also because some district mechanisms were not fully operational due to the absence of the DEO, their transfer or their lack of accountability. The study had been carried out by randomly sampling 16 districts. The team also took into consideration some of the preliminary suggestions of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) which started a probe into the matter earlier. In its interim report, the PAC has recommended that DEOs, who approved the quota as per the recommendation of the minister without referring it to the DEC, be taken action against.

Meanwhile, a consortium of nine donors, which suspended over $600 million in aid to the education sector, are awaiting government response. “We have not got any response from the government yet. I’m sure it will act satisfactorily by following the recommendations and taking action against individuals held guilty by the probe committees,” said Ove Fritz Larsen, minister counsellor at the Embassy of Denmark in Kathmandu, which is the focal point of the international donors, threatening to pull out of the School Sector Reform Programme (SSRP) if the government failed to convince them of reforms in the system.

The donors had decided to suspend aid following reports that the PAC had started probing into the distribution of quota by the then education minister Ram Chandra Kushwaha. Four of the donors, which were due to sign the Joint Financing Arrangement on February 23, are yet to do so. Permanent suspension of the pledge will hit the government’s $2.6 billion budget to be spent by 2014 under the SSRP.