26Nov2022

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Category: NCI

NCIThe Explainer - NIPoRe Blog

Student-Teacher Ratio: Few Key Issues from Nepal

– SAMJHANA Karki

“Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another” – G.K. Chesterton

SUMMARY

Providing universal primary quality education to all is one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Various elements influence the quality of education, such as student-teacher ratio, educational content, teaching pedagogy and learning environment. This article discusses how the student-teacher ratio for primary-level schooling fares across Nepal’s seven provinces for 2017-2019.

BACKGROUND

Education is an essential foundation for a more aware and progressive society. Moreover, education is crucial in helping communities worldwide achieve higher economic growth and maintain balanced social harmony. At the same time, the overall education system and educational infrastructures have significant roles in a country’s education quality. However, a country with a sound education system and state-of-the-art infrastructures, if does not have well-trained teachers, struggles to yield good educational outcomes. For this reason, teachers also play a key role in determining overall educational efficiency.

The student-teacher ratio is one of the prime indicators for assessing the quality of education delivery. It provides us with an outlook on the strength of the educational system of the respective country. The student-teacher ratio at the primary level means the number of primary school students divided by the number of primary school teachers. Simply put, it is the average number of students per teacher in a particular school. For better educational outcomes, it is better to have fewer students per teacher as it allows the teachers to provide more attention to the needs of the students, including one-to-one personal guidance. On the contrary, a single teacher governing a class of many students can be chaotic.

According to the 2019/20 Flash Report published by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), 254,578 teachers trained 5,319,004 primary-level students in Nepal for the year 2019., i.e., a student-teacher ratio of 20.89, comparable to South Asain average of 20:1

Province-wise Status of Student-Teacher Ratio

Fig: Province-wise student-teacher ratio of Nepal for the year 2017-2019 (CEHRD, 2017, 2018, 2019)

The above figure shows the province-wise student-teacher ratio of Nepal for the years 2017-2019. For all three years, Madhesh province lags behind all the provinces while Gandaki Province stands on the top in terms of the ratio. For example, in 2019, Madhesh had ratio value 42.12 compared to Gandaki, which had a value of 12.52. Comparing these data with the national average of 20.89, Madhesh’s ratio is almost twice the value of national average and the Gandaki has almost half of that of the national average. Since the student-teacher ratio is a reverse indicator (higher the value lower the performance), Madhesh, with the highest score for all three years performs worst under this indicator while Gandaki, on the other hand, performs best among seven provinces with the lowest scores for all three years. However, on the positive side, the overall student-teacher ratio across all the provinces in on decline.

On the other hand, the highest student-teacher ratio for Madhesh Province reflects that this area has been poor in terms of having enough teachers for the existing students. To make things a bit better, in 2018, the Provincial Government launched the Beti Padhau, Beti Bachau campaign. 4,373 girls under 18 years have benefited from the scheme so far. Under this campaign, 14,000 bicycles were distributed to girls, and 100 toilets were constructed for girl students during the last fiscal year. The major issues that Madhesh faces, as highlighted by the locals and education experts, including most local-level education branches being run by retired teachers and the local education department struggling to fill all available teaching positions and frequent transfer of teachers to other schools.

Some Issues Nepal’s Education System Faces

Nepal has long faced a shortage of teachers in the remote northern districts. Even though the government has determined a required teacher-student ratio, it has not been able to send additional teachers to the rural parts of the country to meet its specified ratio. Consequently, most public schools, especially those in the rural parts of the country, have fewer teachers than required. The main reasons behind these limitations include the government’s low priority towards mobilizing more teachers in the rural areas and lower preference and commitment by the teachers themselves.

The constitution of Nepal (2015) provisions the citizens’ inherent rights to free and compulsory education for school-going children. Yet, unfortunately, a substantial number of the most vulnerable and marginalized children are still out of school. As per the Economic Survey 2019/20, over two-thirds of the students enrolled in grade one get out of the school system by the time they reach grade 12. Furthermore, as reported in The Kathmandu Post, out of 100 students enrolled in grade one, 36 leave their studies by the time they get to grade 10. Over the decades, however, Nepal has seen improvement in the overall education system. The country currently has a net enrollment rate of 97 percent. In addition, past initiatives such as free mid-day lunch, free sanitary pads for about 1.35 million girls, and scholarships for girls students from marginalized communities have contributed to lower school dropout rates. To ensure easy access to quality education and reduce the existing gaps, the parliament of Nepal has enacted the Compulsory and Free Education Act, 2018. 

Government Efforts

In the budget speech of FY 2021/22, the Government of Nepal has appropriated a budget of NPR 180.4 billion out of the NPR 1.64 trillion national budget for the education sector for the upcoming fiscal year. The government plans to adjust the number of teaching positions based on the student-teacher ratio. However, the real challenge lies in its implementation. There should be a transparent implementation and monitoring of other scholarship-related programs, including teacher vacancy matching. While government budget provision is essential, it is even more important to understand education spending and available resources to identify resource and demand/supply gaps.

Province 1 has taken some steps at the provincial level after the local elections in 2017. To ensure quality education, it has started an electronic attendance system to monitor the entry and exit timings of the teachers, established transport services, focused on research and practical-based education and merged schools as per the number of students and geography. These initiatives have created a positive impact on improving the quality of education in community schools. For instance, the number of students attending classes increased to 284 from 258 since the school started the bus facility in Rong, a rural municipality in Ilam. Similar initiatives and learnings can be transferred and practised by other provinces too.

Way Forward

Although Madhesh Province is comparatively more advanced than other provinces in terms of transportation and communication connectivity and the availability of infrastructure, available details show that this province has low education quality as it has the highest student-teacher ratio. Inefficient implementation of teacher management could be identified as one of the primary reasons behind it. Hence, the prime concern of the current and future policy stakeholders in the province should be to improve teacher management mechanisms even further. Finally, local governments and school management teams could work collaboratively to ensure safe and stimulating learning spaces where teachers are well trained, prepared, supervised, and monitored.

NCIThe Explainer - NIPoRe Blog

An analysis of FDI statistics of Sudurpaschim Province

ANUSHA Basnet

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is defined as a “category of cross-border investment” in which an investor from one country invests in another country wherein the investor has significant control over the business it invests in (IMF, 2009). It may also involve a “transfer of technical know-how, managerial and organizational skills”. For a country aiming to expedite its development process, FDI has been one of the factors aiding the development process of Nepal especially in recent years. The government has also made provisions to make Nepal a more investment friendly country. Acts such as The Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act (FITTA) 2019 and Foreign Direct Investment Policy 2015 have been created by the government in an effort to create a better environment for foreign investors. The FITTA states that “investors need to bring 25 percent of the pledged investment within a year from the date of registration, 70 percent by the start of operation, and the remaining 30 percent within the next two years.” The Department of Industry (DOI), Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), and Investment Board Nepal (IBN) are three agencies that implement the laws regarding FDI. 

As of 2018/19, the stock of FDI in Nepal was Rs. 182.92 billion of which 48.2 percent was paid-up capital, 42.8 percent were reserves, and 9.0 percent was loans. Of the total FDI stock, the service sector accounts for 51.1 percent and the industrial sector accounts for 48.8 percent. Furthermore, within the industrial sector manufacturing, mining and quarrying industry accounts for 28.6 percent and electricity, gas, and water sector accounts for 20.0 percent of FDI stock. While the level of FDI pledge is high, the actual inflow of FDI is still low. 

Looking into the provincial breakdown of FDI statistics, we see the following numbers:

Figure 1: Provincial Breakdown of FDI figures (Data taken from NRB)

From the above graph, we can see that Sudurpaschim province has received the least amount of FDI in all three years (2017, 2018, 2019). The province received FDI of Rs. 13.2 million, 10.8 million, and 27.93 million for the years 2017, 2018, and 2019 respectively. The increase in FDI for the year 2019 can be attributed to the investment brought in for the manufacturing sector (cement industry) and information technology sector (software development industry). Comparatively, Sudurpaschim province lags behind other provinces in terms of being able to attract foreign investment. Years of lack of concrete development plans from the central government, lack of investment in the infrastructure sector and other factors such as a difficult geographical terrain have caused the province to lag behind in terms of development which has affected its current ability to seek investment. Furthermore, delays in current projects have not inspired confidence from the investors. 

However, the provincial government in Sudurpaschim has made efforts to bring in foreign investment. The provincial government has started a process to create a Provincial Investment Board in order to streamline projects that require higher investment (projects requiring investment from Rs. 1 billion to Rs. 5 billion). The government also put in extra effort to woo investors during the Investment Summit organized by the Nepal Investment Board. In terms of attracting foreign investment, tourism, manufacturing sector, energy sector, and transportation sector are few sectors that are being prioritized by the provincial government. The provincial policies and programs for the fiscal year 2078/79 has emphasized completing the ongoing projects in order to attract new investment. The recent agreement between the Investment Board of Nepal and NHPC for the development of Seti river hydropower projects also shows promising signs for the province. 

As the Sudurpaschim government has been creating ambitious plans to expedite the development process of the province, FDI will play an important role in the process. While the province has a lot to do in terms of catching up to other provinces for bringing in FDI, the steps initiated by the government show their commitment and dedication to the economic development of the province.

NCI

Nepal Competitiveness Index 2022

The inaugural Nepal Competitiveness Index (NCI) 2022 document ranks Nepal’s seven provinces based on four environments, 11 sub-environments, and 64 indicators. The NCI is an ongoing collaborative effort of the Nepal Institute for Policy Research (NIPoRe) and the Asia Competitiveness Institute (ACI) at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. The index will be updated regularly by incorporating new data points for the existing indicators while also adding a few more indicators to make the document more comprehensive in the future. Read the document from here.