With Nepal adopting a nation-wide lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19, all schools within the country have been ordered to shut down and are likely to remain closed for an indefinite period of time.Continue reading
In Nepal, one of the most fundamental ideals of democracy – Freedom of Expression – was already facing a hammer of draconian laws and rules prior to the Covid-19 lock-down. The criminal code introduced in 2018 curtailed press freedom by hamstringing investigative journalism and imposing restrictions on criticisms and satires of the government. Likewise, Information Technology Bill permitted the government to ban social media platforms and imprison or impose penalties on individuals for posting ‘improper’ contents. There were 104 incidents that violated press freedom in the previous year alone. Additionally, the moral policing of the government by arresting popular singers and comedians for promoting ‘anti-social values’ threatened the civil society space.Continue reading
Tackling a social calamity is not like fighting a war which works best when a leader can use top-down power to order everyone to do what the leader wants — with no need for consultation. In contrast, what is needed for dealing with a social calamity is participatory governance and alert public discussion.Amartya Sen
The above statement holds equally true for the current circumstances facing Nepal.Continue reading
Nepal, like many other nations, has recently planned to adapt regulations which intend to reduce the alcohol consumption of the whole country through supply side interventions. As per the proposed directive, the hotels, bar and restaurants are likely to be restricted from selling alcoholic beverages prior to 5:00 P.M and after 10:00 P.M, while the liquor stores are allowed to perform transactions related to bottled alcohol between 4:00 P.M to 9:00 P.M. Continue reading
The current tax system of Nepal, being overly complicated and lengthy, amounts to an annual loss of more than 24,300,000* hours of the taxpayers. This has resulted in an increase in the relative cost of paying taxes, as the time lost by the individuals could be invested into generating additional income. While the monetary payment that an individual or an organization has to make periodically is already burdensome for many, the requirement to comply with the administrative activities, imposes an additional burden. In such a scenario, it makes sense for firms and individuals to do away with this system, accounting for fewer taxpayers in the economy.
Introducing efficiency into the tax system would not only incentivize individuals to pay tax religiously, but also would allow NRs. 1,142,100,000* to be added to the economy, generating additional NRs. 57,105,000* tax revenue for the government. This makes the simplification of complex provisions that persists, beneficial to both the government and the taxpayers. Continue reading
The general notion accepted on the subject of education financing understands that private education is much more expensive than public education. While parents have to spend a large part of their income on educating their children in institutional schools, they do not have to pay even a penny to educate their child at the basic level of community schools. Based on this notion institutional schools are often inculpated for the excessive fees they charge to operate their schools. However, one must understand that public education is not free and it runs heavily on the taxpayer’s money. Moreover, the government is not the sole financier of public education. It is only one of the many sources of financing community schools, which means that the fund received is often insufficient to carry out all the activities that a school needs to perform. Thus, a majority of schools opt to search for funding from other sources like local government, donations, charity from international organizations, leasing land, school run business and many other potential sources. If we add up all of these additional costs, the cost of education in community schools becomes comparable to (if not greater than) that in institutional schools.
This claim has been clearly justified with the cost per child calculation. The per student cost was NRS. 16097.11 in the year 2015/16 in community schools when calculated by dividing the total funds received by the schools with the total number of children enrolled. But, while accounting for other performance variables such as the retention rate and pass rate, the story changed entirely. While considering only those students who were retained until the end of the year 2015/16, the cost per child in community schools increased to NRs. 25799.39 from NRs. 16097.11. Furthermore, while considering only the students who were able to graduate, it further rose to NRs 27,883.68 in the same year. The per student cost in institutional school during the same year was NRs. 28, 392, which is comparable to the per child cost in community schools.
We can infer from this data that public education is relatively cheaper, but it has not been able to generate desirable results which have led to massive increase in costs. If the current state of public education continues, and community schools do not improve in terms of their pass rate and retention rate, the cost of public education will further rise and be costlier than institutional schooling. Hence, it is high time that we make reforms in the public education system in order to improve the outcomes in community schools. Improvement in the outcome is not only an extremely important goal to advance public education; but also a means to reduce the cost of education. Pouring more money into public education without proper reform is a huge waste of scarce financial resources.
The existing financing model of public education, size of public investment on education, and quality of output of public investment on education point to the fact that there is an urgent need to introduce a structural reform in the sector. Education is one of the biggest areas of government investment. In that sense, it runs heavily on taxpayers’ money. It, therefore, becomes imperative to ensure that allocation of resources is optimal to the extent possible; their use – efficient, and quality of outcome – high.