The Budget Review Mission (BRM) of the government’s flagship School Sector Development Program (SSDP) was completed yesterday under the leadership of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) with joint financing and non-joint financing partners including World Bank, USAID, ADB, Finland, Norway, European Union, JICA, Global Partnership for Education, REACH MDTF and UNICEF, and other stakeholders.
The review assessed progress and achievements of the plan’s fourth year of implementation, annual work plan and budget and allocation of resources for the final year, together with an assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the SSDP.
Prior to the budget review, virtual consultation and information sharing sessions were organized with the provincial and local government leaders, Teachers Union, Association of INGOs, Consortium of Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders.
“We are looking at new modalities and approaches that ensure children continue to learn and at the same time ensure their wellbeing,” stated Dr. Sanjay Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. “We expect that education will be a priority sector in the upcoming budget given the COVID-19 pandemic and will look at means to expedite programs and coordinate amongst all levels of government and stakeholders on a national framework that guides safe reopening of schools.”
The review appreciated MoEST’s continued effort to pursue and achieve educational objectives under the SSDP, implementing reforms to improve access and the quality of education, and some of the immediate responses to the impact of COVID-19 on the education sector including a scenario-based contingency plan to respond to immediate impacts and the initiation of remote teaching-learning programs to ensure that children can continue learning while the schools remain closed.
At the same time, it is expected that the shocks to education from the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to increased dropout rates, learning loss and heighten the inequality with the most vulnerable students disproportionately bearing the impact of the shock.
“The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse the progress made to date on Nepal’s education outcomes impacting children and young people, especially the poor and vulnerable,” stated Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Manager for Nepal. “It is critical to counter these impacts through appropriate policy responses and turn this crisis into an opportunity to build back better.”
USAID Acting Mission Director, Adriana Hayes, stated: "Given the latest development on COVID-19 in Nepal, we will likely see impacts in the education sector for a long time. Schools will reopen in phases over time. Similar to many countries globally, it is likely that we will see the need to periodically close schools to protect the health of the population. I urge the MOEST to ensure that the fiscal year's education budget and work plan incorporate the activities identified in the Education Cluster Contingency plan so that local governments can receive funds and continue to provide access to education during this unprecedented crisis. "
The BRM recommended a set of agreed actions to expedite SSDP implementation in the final year under the broader purview of the immediate, medium and long term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education sector in Nepal.