Nepal | September 26, 2020

Restructure SSDP: In line with federalism

Hari Prasad Lamsal
Share Now:

Nepal will only achieve its 2030 vision of ensuring equitable access to safe and quality education for all if the education sector plan and objectives are owned across all governments at the local, provincial and federal level

The School Sector Development Plan (SSDP) is a seven-year programme for fiscal years 2016/17 to 2022/23. It is the overarching strategic plan for the education sector and is designed to achieve the goals and objectives of the national periodic development plan and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 of ensuring equitable access to quality education and life-long learning for all. The SSDP is implemented through a five-year cost programme (2016-2021), which is jointly funded by the Government of Nepal and nine joint financing partners (the Asian Development Bank, the European Union, Finland, the Global Partnership for Education, JICA, Norway, UNICEF, USAID and the World Bank).

The development partners support the SSDP programme through a Sector Wide Approach (SWA) modality, which entails development partners agreeing on joint indicators and reviews that trigger disbursement. This allows for both types of development partners, ones that use result-based financing instruments (the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and partly the European Union) and those that support through programme-based support. The vast majority of the support (80 per cent) is result-based financing and as such is based on the achievement of annual disbursement-linked indicators (DLIs). The remaining 20 per cent of the official development assistance is provided through an overall satisfactory progress against the SSDP results framework targets.

The SSDP can be looked and described through multi-angles. The government accepts it as a plan and programme whereas the financing partners consider it as a project. It is also taken as a programme framework, which can give space for other potential development partners under its broader framework with a view to fulfilling the much-needed financing gaps. It also includes the joint programming and reviewing mechanism as characterised in a project-based approach to engage the development a.

As the SSDP was initiated in July 2016, it was designed before the introduction of the new federal governance structure that has been rolled out. With the new constitution assigning governance authority and functions among the federal, provincial and local governments, the institutional restructuring has downsized central level institutions, created new administrative set-ups and assigned considerable governance and fiscal authority to the provincial and local levels. The management and control of school education has been reassigned, mainly to local levels. The fact that the SSDP was designed to achieve its goal and objectives under the old unitary governance system raises question of ownership of the plan and its programme by the new local governments.

This leaves the federal government and education sector development partners facing some major questions during the remaining SSDP implementation period. Under the new federal system, local governments are responsible for implementing the SSDP activities, but were not in place while designing the programme and, therefore, are likely to feel little ownership of the SSDP. Furthermore, given the high levels of autonomous mandate provided by the constitution, the local levels are not under the direct control of the federal ministry. The question of whether the local levels remain responsible to report progress against the centrally defined targets has been raised.

Another major question is whether a central SWA modality and joint financing arrangement remains a valid modality in a highly decentralised governance and funding structure. Local levels have substantial flexibility to allocate their budget across sectors, and as such, the education sector budget is no longer decided and allocated based on a centrally developed budget alone. This poses a problem for the development partners that need assurances that the provided funds are utilised for intended purposes.

In response to this, the SSDP budget has been allocated in the current and previous fiscal year through federal conditional grants to the local governments. Although this is an understandable measure for the short or transitional term to prevent interruption of major strategies and services within the school education sector, this can be easily seen in the longer term as not allowing the local levels to plan, budget and implement their local plans in line with their constitutional mandate.

In conclusion, there is an urgent need to take the SSDP goal, objectives, targets and strategies to the local levels and ensure meaningful review and validation at this level. Based on this, there needs to be a genuine effort to identify the scope, structure, implementation arrangements and ownership of the plan, ensuring full alignment with the decentralised context and full alignment with Nepal’s long-term vision and plans and international commitments.

As part of this, Nepal will also need to define how development assistance can and should be utilised to support education reforms in a federal context.

Nepal will only achieve its 2030 vision of ensuring equitable access to safe and quality education for all if the education sector plan and objectives are owned across all governments at the local, provincial and federal level.

Lamsal is Joint Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology

A version of this article appears in print on August 01, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

One buried to death, five missing in landslides

BHAIRAHAWA, SEPTEMBER 24 One person died and five others went missing in landslides at different places in Palpa this morning. In Surangdanda, ward 2 of Rambha Rural Municipality, Motisara Gaha, 27, died when a landslide buried his home. Similarly, in Phoksingkot of the same ward, five persons Read More...

In-person classes start in Sudurpaschim

DHANGADI, SEPTEMBER 24 Schools, which had remained shut for long due to the coronavirus pandemic, have started in-person classes in different districts of Sudurpaschim Province. The schools were closed for the last six months after the government imposed nationwide lockdown to stop the virus s Read More...

NMA Birgunj chapter asks doctors to wear black bands at work

BIRGUNJ, SEPTEMBER 24 Nepal Medical Association Narayani chapter Birgunj has protested the mistreatment of agitating Dr Govinda KC, who had started his 19th hunger strike demanding quality health service and medical education. NMA Narayani chapter also asked doctors to sport black bands at Read More...

Sindhupalchowk, a crisis-hit region

DHULIKHEL, SEPTEMBER 24 Battered by a series of natural disasters in the past three months that caused huge loss to life and property, Sindhupalchowk has been declared a crisis-hit region. The government announced this today. Alongside Sindhupalchowk, Baglung is also declared a crisis-hit regi Read More...

One dead, six hurt as landslide sweeps bus in Daunne

KAWASOTI:  A person died while six others sustained injures after the passenger bus they were travelling on was swept by a landslide at Daunne in Nawalpur on Thursday night. The deceased has been identified as Harish Chandra KC of Aathbiskot Rural Municipality-10 in Rukum West, informed Deputy Read More...

NZ govt gives all clear for Pakistan, West Indies to tour

WELLINGTON: New Zealand's government has given the go ahead for the Pakistan and West Indies teams to tour the country later this year and in early 2021, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) said on Friday. New Zealand has been one of the world's most successful nations at containing the new coronavirus Read More...

Banke records another death from covid

RANJHA: A man died of coronavirus infection in Banke this morning. The 52-year-old from Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolis-3, who was admitted to COVID-19 isolation ward of the Kohalpur-based Teaching Hospital, breathed his last this morning, shared corona resource person of the Health Office Banke, Read More...

Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation to propose two-day leave in a week

KATHMANDU, SEPTEMBER 24 A meeting held today at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) has decided to submit a proposal to the Cabinet regarding two days of leave in a week for civil servants. The ministry has taken such a decision to address the demands of tourism stakeh Read More...