Nepalese Government announces reducing budget and promoting vouchers in education - forgetting about human rights?
The Finance Minister in Nepal presented on 28th May the budget for the fiscal year 2016/17 in Parliament. The Government proposes to set aside only Rs. 116 billion for the education sector. This is a sharp decline in the State’s expenditure on education, dropping from 12.04% of the total national budget last year to just 11.6% for this fiscal year. In addition, the budget speech has introduced the idea of a voucher system to sponsor children going to private schools. It also includes provision of management contract of public schools with private schools and requires to recognise such private schools or colleges who participate in this program.
In response to this development, GI-ESCR’s partner, the National Campaign for Education Nepal (NCE Nepal) released a press statement expressing strong dissatisfaction with the current budget declaration and the introduction of the voucher system that may lead public education towards privatisation.
In April 2016, NCE Nepal, the Nepal National Teachers Association (NNTA), GI-ESCR and other partners submitted a report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) detailing how the increasing privatisation of education in Nepal is creating segregation in education and deepening discrimination against girls. The concluding observations from the CRC on Nepal are expected soon.
A similar experiment to what the Nepalese is proposing in terms of vouchers was attempted in Chile in the 1980’s with devastating effects: Chile ended up with the most socio-economically segregated education system amongst developed countries, where elite high fee paying schools concentrate the high-performing students while free or cheaper schools concentrate the lowest performing students. To correct this crisis, the Government of Chile opted to ban for profit education, progressively eliminate shared payment and ban economic, social, academic and behavioural selection at all levels of general education.