Government of Nepal and eight Education Development Partners signed a Joint
Financing Agreement (JFA) to formalise the cooperation in the implementation of
School Sector Development Plan (SSDP). The JFA is the common framework of
Government and Development Partners to effectively implement the SSDP.
The SSDP is a 7-year sector plan, which is operationalised through a 5-year implementation program that was initiated in July 2016 with the main objective of supporting Nepal’s ambition to graduate from the status of Least Developed Country by 2023 by ensuring its citizens' access to quality education. The total cost of the SSDP has been estimated at around US$ 6.4 billion, with the external assistance being envisioned to cover around 8 per cent of this amount.
The SSDP JFA brings different partners together to support the Government of Nepal to improve equity, quality, efficiency, governance and management of the education sector. The mechanism of pooled funding and expertise is expected to bring down the transaction cost significantly and enhance the impact to progress in the sector.
At a recent meeting called by the Minister of Education, Gopal Man Shrestha, JFA Partners discussed SSDP implementation and the responsibility of being Education Development Partner focal points was handed over from EU and Finland to UNICEF and Norway.
The EU Ambassador Rensje Teerink, highlighted the challenging and exciting context in which the SSDP was developed and is currently being implemented on the backdrop of a profound and historic state restructuring. "It was an intense and delightful honor for the EU to co-chair together with Finland the education working group during the last twelve months in Nepal at the crucial time, when the SSDP was finalized," said Teerink, who is soon to move to Bangladesh. "We will strongly stay engaged as an active partner and will continue to extend our support to the government and our dear friends from UNICEF and Norway as new education co-focal points."
The incoming Co-Focal Point, UNICEF’s Nepal country representative, Tomoo Hozomui, thanked both EU and Finland and reiterated the EU ambassador’s focus on the need for nationwide school safety in light of the lessons learnt from the recent earthquakes and floods. "We need to continue the implementation of the Consolidated Equity Strategy in the education sector in order to ensure that gains in quality are fairly distributed among the school population, leading to a decrease in the current disparities, "said Hozomui."The Ministry of Education should facilitate capacity strengthening at all levels to enable implementation of strategies within the SSDP at all levels and achieve the envisioned results within the federal context."
The Minister of Education, Gopal Man Shrestha thanked the Development Partners for the strong support to the sector over the past years and in the conception of the new education sector plan. "The Government recognizes the right to education as a fundamental human right and therefore has and will give priority to this sector. However, in order to reach those most vulnerable and in need of education, more resources will be needed,"said Minister Shrestha. "I am certain that this partnership will go beyond the SSDP timeline to ensure Nepal will meet its commitment to the citizens made with the Sustainable Development Goals."
Furthermore, the Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Shanta Bahadur Shrestha, appreciated the long-term collaboration with the Development Partners in the education sector, which has helped Nepal to achieve significant progress in terms of access and inclusion. "The JFA will allow the Government and Development Partners to advance equity, assure quality, strengthen governance and mainstream school safety in the Nepal education sector."
At the meeting EU and UNICEF handed over the SSDP Joint Financing Arrangement to the Minister Shrestha. The JFA represents a combined commitment of the Development Partners of almost US$ 485 million to support implementation of SSDP. In addition to this, the wider Development Partner Group will support the SSDP implementation through non-budget support and technical assistance as well.