Education for All Nepal: Review from a conflict perspective

This review of the Education For All (EFA) programme in Nepal was commissioned by the Finnish Embassy on behalf of the group of supporting donors and undertaken by a team of consultants contracted by International Alert. The intention is to examine the EFA programme in relation to conflict and the current political crisis.

Over a period of a month the team reviewed the relevant literature, visited the Mid-West and East, and engaged in consultation with stakeholders in Nepal. Using a methodology based on the Strategic Conflict Assessment of DFID, factors relating to conflict have been addressed in three main categories- social, economic and political exclusion. A fourth category relates to security factors, or the immediate effects of violence. In accordance with the Terms of Reference the team has focused more on the impact of education on conflict rather than the impact of conflict on education.

The Review concludes that the design of the EFA programme is directly aimed at issues of exclusion and therefore is a highly appropriate response to conflict. Among the instruments available to donors it may be one of the most suitable at the current time. It reflects many of the DAC Principles for working in Fragile States. The review recommends continued funding at current levels. There are, however, a number of serious deficiencies in implementation and donors could focus their efforts in relation to the EFA programme more sharply ‘on’ conflict.

The EFA programme has been relatively successful in distributing scholarships to dalits but the amount actually received is commonly half what was intended and very small in relation to the overall cost of education. Scholarships are nowhere near enough to compensate for the loss of labour when children are sent to school. With government staff rarely if ever visiting schools, ostensibly because of the conflict, there is ample scope for patronage especially in the case of scholarships for ‘50 percent of poorer girls’. In practice, resources are focused on the District towns while interior areas are neglected.