In addition to generally weak quality of service delivery, there are also serious equity challenges. For example, there are major variations in the quality of service coverage (as well as outcomes) across socio-economic, gender, ethnic and geographic groups.
The Government’s capacity to improve service delivery in the sector has been affected by not simply lack of resources, but by its weak capacity to explore innovative and cost-effective solutions as well as its limited capacity to drive implementation. Given the new federal structure, there will need to be an even greater emphasis on improving implementation capacity at the local levels.
Overall, resource allocations over the past several years have been about 17/18 percent of Government budget. While this is comparable to many other similarly situated countries, intra-sectoral allocations have fluctuated, and a lion’s share of the budget goes towards meeting soaring recurrent expenditures, leaving little resources for capital expenditure and new innovations. Resources spent are not routinely/ systematically monitored and there is serious concern about corruption in the education sector. Nepal’s overall Transparency International ranking in 2016 was 131st out of 176 countries, and has established corruption in Nepal as ‘rampant’.
With the aim of improving learning outcomes and job readiness and relevance, it's crucial to focus on improving the quality of service delivery at all levels of education. In addition to ensuring adequate training and sustained resources, there is extensive evidence showing the importance of enhanced incentives and accountability in improving service delivery. Comprehensive reviews and regular learning assessments are critical in reforming the education system. When families, community leaders, teachers and head teachers, and policy makers and politicians receive ‘real time’ information on how well their children/ students are learning (or not learning), significant pressure towards greater accountability is produced, leading to action on the part of those who are responsible. In line with this theory of change, and as a core activity, the Center will conduct annual reading and numeracy assessments across Nepal in collaboration with Twaweza, an internationally recognized non-profit that conducts similar surveys in East Africa. In addition, the Center will partner with the World Bank to implement Service Delivery Indicators (SDI) to get periodic updates on service delivery quality in the sector. The findings from these assessments will highlight the ‘quality of service delivery', and help improve accountability and fiscal allocations in the education sector. Assessment results will be highlighted in the Annual Human Development and Innovation Report and presented at the National Forum that brings together the key stakeholders, including the Government, development partners, international experts, private and public sector collaborators, and civil society groups. The Annual Human Development and Innovation Report will also include an in-depth annual budget analysis and public expenditure review that assesses expenditure patterns in the education and human development sectors. Such an exercise is expected to help set baselines and help show overall trends in the sector’s performance over the years. It will also include discussions on trends in transparency and accountability, data for which is expected to be captured directly through surveys of stakeholders and beneficiaries, including parents and students.