Public schools unable to reap benefits of block grants

Kathmandu, November 20:

Public schools have received block grants under the Education for All programme ten months after the scheduled date due to the government’s lengthy disbursement mechanism. According to a research, even the schools that have received grants have not been able to

utilise the amounts as the school management committee meeting has not taken place.

The research on ‘Disbursements of Block Grants’ was conducted by the Research Centre for Educational Innovation and Development (CERID). A research report will soon be submitted to the Education Ministry. The research was conducted in three districts — Kavre, Kaski and Chitwan.

According to the research, even though block grants for public schools have already been disbursed, the majority of schools are still unaware of the School Grants Operation Guidelines (SGOG).

“Most of the schools are collecting admission fees, monthly fees and exam fees from the students even after receiving the block grants,” the research paper said: “Budget implementation faces difficulty because of the difference in the school year (March/April) and fiscal year (June/July).”

It also states that many schools are unable to meet the full costs of textbooks as the textbook expenditure grant for 2061/2062 had not been increased to cover for the hike in price of books.

“Grant fund disbursement in fiscal year 2061/62 shows that there have been long delays in release of funds from the centre (Department of Education) to District Education Office (DEO),” the report said.

The School Grants Operation Guidelines, 2061 clearly indicates that the District Education Office should deposit the grants in the bank accounts of the schools by the end of Shrawan.

But the DEO deposited the grants in bank accounts of sample schools on Ashad 3, 2062 (July 17, 2005). Hence there has been a delay of 10 months in availing the grants to the concerned schools.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry has informed that action plans had been prepared one-and-a-half months ago for the quick release of the money and for the effective implementation of School Improvement Plan (SIP).

Chuman Singh BasnetP, secretary at Education Ministry, has said that if there is any delay in providing of services by any of the concerned departments under Education ministry, it would be taken into notice. “A Joint secretary of the ministry has been appointed as Nodal office to take care of such complaints,” Basnet said.

Block grants scheme is a new approach of availing resources to the schools where expenditure decisions are taken by the SMC, mainly to meet the schools’ non-salary recurrent expenditures.

The block grant covers school administrative expenditure, miscellaneous expenditures for teachers, payments to additional teachers in community-managed schools, costs of providing bilingual education in grade one, regular grant for improvement of primary schools and the cost of educational materials for primary school students.