KATHMANDU, March 20: With the 744 local level government units coming into effect by minimizing the roles of the 75 districts as per the spirit of Nepal's federal constitution, the Ministry of Education (MoE) is left thoroughly perplexed about the status of the present official education bodies and the existing Education Act.
The eighth amendment to the Education Act that came into effect about 10 months ago, does not include the structures of education offices and their roles in the federal administration. As per the old system, however, there is still a regional education office in each of the five development regions and a district education office (DEO) in each of the 75 districts functional along with dozens of resource centers in the districts.
That has left the high officials at the MoE confused about the status and legitimacy of these education offices vis-à-vis the new federal structures. “The existing Education Act has no mention of the new system adopted by the country. And we are not in a position to talk about the status and function of these education bodies,” said Dr Hari Prasad Lamsal, spokesperson for the MoE.
According to the officials at the MoE, the existing Education Act is only a document for carrying out official activities during this transitional period. “We need a new Education Act soon to address the administrative structures embedded in the federal constitution and new local bodies,” they say.
Education expert Prof Dr Bidhya Nath Koirala also underlined the need for bringing in a new education law with decentralized authority to the local bodies. “However, the bureaucracy of the country is not positive towards this concern as their positions will be limited to local units and federal provinces against their mentality of centralized administration,” he added. “The teachers' unions affiliated to different political parties have also disliked the new system.”
The regional and district education offices will be transformed into provincial offices and district coordination committees, far different from the present administration system, according to Koirala.
“There must be a local education authority in each of the 744 local bodies to govern and manage the education sector,” he said. “If the local elections are held successfully, there will be an immediate need for a new Education Act based on the federal system.”
As per the federal system, the districts are just the coordinating bodies between local units and federal provinces. “In such a situation, the education ministry is yet to open discussions on the new governance system,” said Koirala. “There are crucial issues of mobilizing resources, manpower, planning, assessment of quality and standards in education, transfer of teachers and government staff, and competing with other local bodies and states,” he added. “A sound political decision is the need of the present hour to draft the new law.”