Education in Nepal

Nepalese teacher and schoolchildren in Pokhara. Photo credit: Dmitry A. Mottl, Wikimedia.

The first school in Nepal was established in 1853. This school was only for the members of the ruling families and their courtiers. Schooling for the general public began after 1951 when a popular movement ushered in a democratic system. Since then, there has been a dramatic expansion of education facilities in the country. As a result, adult literacy (age 15+) of the country was reported to be 60.3% (female: 46.3%, male: 73%) in a 2010 population census, up from about 5% in 1952–54. Beginning from about 300 schools and two colleges with about 10,000 students in 1951, there now are 49,000 schools (including higher secondary), 415 colleges, five universities, and two academies of higher studies. Altogether 7.2 million students are enrolled in those schools and colleges, served by more than 222,000 teachers.

Despite such examples of success, there are challenges. More than half of Nepali primary school students do not continue on to secondary school. Of those who do, only half again graduate. Due in part to its rugged terrain and lack of reliable infrastructure, educational and technological advances have been slow to reach rural communities in Nepal. Education management, quality, relevance, and access are some of the critical education issues in Nepal. Societal disparities based on gender, ethnicity, location, and economic class are also yet to be eliminated.

Unlike their urban school peers, Nepal rural school students lack computers, internet service and in many cases, reliable electricity. To correct the imbalance, Nepal’s Department of Education (DoE) is investing NRs. 980m ($10.2m) to equip all public schools with computers and internet access in 2014, and broaden its Information Computer Technology (ICT) instructional programme…. Each ICT campus will spend the grant money to purchase five computers, a printer and internet access. In areas that lack electricity, the government plans to use solar power and diesel generators as alternative energy sources to run the programme.

Surath Giri and Kosh Raj Koriala, Khabar, April 2014

”Nepal

In terms of educational technology, less than 20 percent of the 35,000 schools in Nepal currently have access to computers or the Internet. A new initiative proposed by the Nepali government in 2013 aims to provide computers and Internet access to just over 7,000 rural public schools. This initiative, the Information Computer Technology (ICT) program, had reached about 1,571 public schools as of April 2014. It has caused some contention, however, as many rural schools lack access to basic supplies, including books and electricity (though the government has pledged to provide solar power and diesel generators as alternative energy sources, if needed). In addition, significant teacher training will be needed to make the initiative a success, along with the development of culturally relevant, academically meaningful online content.

Internet access in general throughout Nepal is low. Data from 2013 indicated only about 24 percent of Nepalis have access to some form of internet connection. On the other hand, mobile has a penetration rate of approximately 65 percent. Much of Nepal’s Internet access is concentrated in the more-developed Kathmandu Valley region, as the mountainous terrain and low income in remote regions of the country make access more difficult. However, one effort to bring Internet access to rural populations — the Nepal Wireless Networking Project — has brought Internet to over 175 remote mountain villages.

Students of Janata Primary School, northern Tistung. Photo Credit: Soshin Drechsler, Wikimedia

The Earthducation team will be visiting Nangi, the home village of Mahabir Pun, the founder of the Nepal Wireless Networking Project and where the project began. Under Mr. Pun’s leadership, the school in Nangi has been employing some innovative work around technology, community-based development projects, wireless technologies, and technology training for students. Mr. Pun was recently inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in Hong Kong for his pioneering work. We look forward to sharing how community members in Nangi view education, and what impact they feel education and technology have had on sustainable development within their village.