The Scholarship Act was brought in 2021 BS to make laws to manage scholarships either granted by or through the Nepal Government. The Act was amended twice, the first time in 2025 BS and the second time in 2033 BS. Likewise the Fourth Amendment of the Judicial Administration Act 2043, and the Act made to amend some Nepali Acts related to Education and Sports, 2063 also made some amendments. The Scholarship Act (Third Amendment) 2065, bill to make some general amendments in the Scholarship Act, in 2065 BS, keeping the political changes and the state of education in the country, in mind, was presented in the Legislative Assembly. The amendment bill is being reviewed [now] as it is an appropriate to do a periodical review.
1. Policy issue
Instead of amending and reforming the Scholarship Act brought about in 2021, and incorporating changes in subject during this extended period, it is more appropriate to bring about a new, clear, and time relevant scholarship related Act.
2. Subject Analysis
The definition of scholarship is not time relevant. In the presented bill, “scholarship” has been defined as, a financial subsidy or service made available by the Nepal Government to any individual or educational institution for the purpose of [academic] study or research, or training; or financial grant, service, or technical assistance, provided by any foreign country, international or other donor organizations or by any domestic or foreign educational institution; or any service defined as scholarship by the Nepal Government after publishing such in the Nepal Gazette.
This definition must be reviewed, and should include scholarships granted by the Nepal government or the state or by foreign institutions through the Nepal Government. The definitions should state that scholarship does not only refer to financial grants or services but also academic opportunities.
Looking at current practices not just financial grants or services but quotas are also considered scholarships. This also includes technical assistance. Scholarships should therefore be totally redefined.
3. In the proposed provision in Article 3, only scholarships granted to the Nepal Government are included as scholarships. It does not include scholarships granted by the Nepal Government. This should also be included. It should also reflect the idea that besides scholarships provided by other governments and institutions, those provided by itself [Nepal Government] or by other institutions and universities should be managed properly.
4. The scope of the Scholarship Act should be widened and legal provisions related to domestic and foreign governments and institutions resolved. There are currently 8 universities in Nepal, therefore the Scholarship Act should clearly state whether the Act can apply to those universities or if it is possible to coordinate with them. It might be appropriate to include to some extent whether the Act can regulate scholarships given by non-government sectors.
5. It is necessary to categorize scholarships. With the objective of balancing the current educational state of the country, educational institutions, and demand and import, categorization should be done on the basis of type or nature, either in the Act or through a law. The bill is silent on this matter.
6. If the Nepal Government is to adopt a policy of reservation in scholarship, it should make a system where the same reservation policy is applicable in all areas and make provisions in the Scholarship Act along the same line with regards to scholarships as well. Proposing different types of reservation policies in different Acts would create confusion in itself. It is therefore necessary to coordinate with all sectors. The basis for reservation should represent classes backward in educational, economic and social sectors rather than ethnicity. It is necessary that reservation should be based on class rather than on ethnicity. This has not been brought about in the proposed Act.
7. The main idea of scholarship is merit. For the purpose of the development of the country it is necessary that qualified [those deserving on the basis of merit] be given scholarship opportunities. The Scholarship Act should therefore not be brought about placing capacity, qualification, or specialization in second priority. However the proposed bill does not give first priority to capability.
8. The proposed bill has provisions stating that a Nepali citizen may acquire permission to attain education for other than higher education from foreign countries. This is not a logical argument at all. If it is necessary for the provision to be applicable to all those studying in foreign countries, it should be done so in an equal manner. There is no reason that it should state except for higher education. It should also clarify the provision to take permission for study in foreign countries. If it is for the purpose of foreign currency exchange this should be mentioned in the related foreign currency rate related act. Otherwise why should the government try to regulate those who are going abroad for further studies? Thought should be given to whether it creates hurdles in the implementation of the right to education. The bill is unclear about this.
9. Although the intention of only making scholarships available to those individuals excelling in entrance exams given through community schools is good, it will be difficult to say that this will bring the expected results. It is because of this that the trend to study in private schools but give SLC through community schools began. To ensure that the provision is not misused there must be special provisions in the Act. It might be important to have provisions to implicate and punish those who have misused this provision under criminal offence law. The proposed bill is inadequate in this matter.
10. Article 7 proposes the amendment of Article 7 of the main act. It states that while fixing the claimed amount this amount should not be less than what a student has to pay to study on self paid expenses in a non government educational institution in Nepal. This is not easy to implement in Nepal. Which agency or which college or which university should be take for the comparison? There are different levels and rates of educational institutions in the country. The expenses are different in each subject. It is therefore necessary to to clear state the basis for the claimed amount. This proposed provision in the bill cannot be implemented. It is therefore necessary to give thought to the above mentioned suggestions.
This investigation and suggestion report was prepared by Dr Tirtharaj Parajuli for the Nepal Constitution Foundation with inputs from women, indigenous groups, Dalit, Madhesi, youth and other pressure groups. The Foundation is grateful to Dr Ram Krishna Timalsina, Amuda Shrestha, Mukta Lama, Dhan Bahadur Saud, Sambojan Limbu, Teku Nepali, Kamala Biswakarma, Bharat Gautam, Tek Prasad Dhungana, Gopi Biswakarma, Dipak Khatiwada, Dinesh Tripathi, Sirshak Ghimire, Jeni Gurung, Abhishek Adhikari, Phurpa Tamang, and Dr. Bipin Adhikari.
This research has been supported by The Asia Foundation and opinions and views expressed in this report are of the authors and don't necessarily reflects of The Asia Foundation.