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Let the poor choose!

Government of Nepal has done a commendable job in taking up the responsibility of providing education – quality education, to be more precise – to all children in the country and transforming the country and lives of its people in the process. Programs like Education for All (EFA), Secondary Education Support Program (SESP), Community School Support Program (CSSP) and Teacher Education program (TEP) have been put together to enhance the quality of public education being delivered to the poor. After the School Sector Reform Plan (SSRP), 2009, the government has, especially, scaled up public expenditure into education sector and has also attempted to make the teachers more accountable. Now that SSRP has come to an end, it calls for evaluating the program in terms of how successful it has been in delivering the promises it put forth.

If we look into the results of School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examinations, which is one of the proxies we use in Nepal in measuring the success of schools and the level of education that has been imparted upon the children, we can clearly see that the public education has failed. Poor students who largely depend on publicly funded education system are not showing results that justify the level of investment that has gone into their education. Last year, of the total students that appeared for SLC examinations, only 28% of those that were enrolled in public schools passed the test while over 93% of those that were enrolled in the private schools in different parts of the country passed the test.

SLC results

Why has this been happening?

Public education in Nepal lacks an effective reward and punishment mechanism for teachers. Teachers neither get credited for the great inputs, nor are punished for being irregular at schools.

For a majority of the people in the rural parts, when their children go to schools, they become one of the first family members to do so. Therefore, the knowledge that their children are enrolled in a school implies (for these parents) that their children are getting good education. Especially in the rural nooks and crannies of the country, where monitoring can be a challenge in itself, there is no mechanism in place that keeps the teachers on check from submitting to their will of whether or not to run classes on any given day.

Even when some of these poor parents try to communicate with the teachers, the teachers have been (time and again) found to be indifferent towards their concerns. The popular defense for this is that this behavior of the teachers could be dealt with by offering them various trainings. But in having said that, it seems to have discounted the fact that GoN has already been running training programs (like Teacher Education Program) that are intended to developing attributes of teachers in these public schools. This hints that the teacher education programs could be running ineffectively and investments in these programs are not being best used.

Text books not reaching the students on time has also been a problem for the public education system in Nepal for years now. There are public schools in Nepal which do not get books and other study materials delivered to them as late as the last few months of the academic session. When teachers are not accountable towards the students and their parents, and have no incentives to deliver his/her best for these students, having no text-books only makes the situation worse as this gives public schools more reasons to take the future of these children for granted.

While the public schools have failed to deliver as per their spending, private schools have been luring more and more students every year and have also been growing in number. Parents all around the country feel that private schools deliver much better quality of education than the public schools do. A considerable portion of the remittance from the Nepalese migrant workers working in the Middle East going into the education evidences the desire of the poor to invest in good education.

Voucher system as an alternative

The flaws in the existing public education system will only come from a re-structuring of the system. Public education can definitely be made better with the right kind of commitment from all stakeholders.. What that means is that the poor are going to have to wait and depend on the very same inefficient public sector. The moral question here is: Does being poor mean that one necessarily waits for the government to choose ways to make things better for him?

The most economical way right now to revamp the whole public education and make it efficient and competent is by allowing the parents/students to choose schools on their own. As the data show, private schools fare much better in terms of imparting quality education to their students. School choice/ voucher system will introduce the must-have mechanism of reward and punishment in the public education. This will mobilize the teachers in the most effective way.

Under voucher system or the school choice program, the government funds individual students instead of funding schools. It funds the consumer instead of funding the supplier. Government selects the target families in terms of their ability to afford a quality education and hands them a voucher. The students can now choose to go to the school of their choice. This allows the parents to have their children in the schools that have been yielding the best results and are known for the education they impart on their students. When school fees need to be paid, these parents can produce the voucher that the government has given them to the school that they have chosen. In an article titled ‘Free to choose, and learn’ published by The Economist in May 2007, the principle of voucher system has been explained succinctly: “The state pays; parents choose; schools compete; standards rise; everybody gains.

This article was first published in Perspectives, The Himalayan Times, on January 19, 2015 under the title “Let the poor choose the education they want.”
Akash Shrestha

About Akash Shrestha

Akash Shrestha is Coordinator of the Research Department at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation where his focus areas are petroleum trade and public enterprises. He also writes newspaper articles, blogs and radio capsules, based on the findings of the studies conducted by The Foundation.

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This is how education vouchers will educate our school children better

Over five decades ago Milton Friedman proposed an alternative to improve public education with school vouchers –  separating government financing of education from government administration of schools. Friedman argued, “parents at all income levels would have the freedom to choose the schools their children attend.”

Here at top 5 reason why

1. Making teachers and principles of government schools more responsible and accountable to the parents
2. Giving poor parents a choice on which school to send their kids for education
3. Decreasing inequality in the education by improving the performance of government run schools
4. Promoting entrepreneurship in educational system so that there is more innovation and decrease in cost
5. Empowering the students of government run schools to make the system more accountable and responsible

Read more HERE

Sarita Sapkota

About Sarita Sapkota

Ms. Sapkota is the Coordinator of Communication and Development at Samriddhi Foundation and was previously engaged with the Foundation as a Research Associate for more than three years. She is a graduate of political science and also contributes articles for Samriddhi's column at The Himalayan Times' Perspectives supplement.

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Expressing Ideas for a Free Society

Expressing Ideas for a Free Society

Learn and Earn

A chance to win prizes worth a total of NRs. 60,000 by learning about 5 of the greatest freedom champions whose ideas have expanded individual and economic freedom for us like no other.

All you have to do is:
Select ONE of the following five topics:

  • Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand
  • Hayek and Spontaneous Order
  • Basitat and ‘What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen’
  • Ayn Rand and Capitalism
  • Milton Friedman and School Choice

Creatively express your understanding in that topic. Creative expression categories: Performing Arts (Music, drama, poetry), Power Point Presentation, Elocution, and, Audio/Videos (short movies)

First Prize: NRs. 30,000

Second Prize: NRs. 20,000

Third Prize: Nrs. 10,000

Also all winners get a chance to attend the Asia Liberty Forum taking place in Kathmandu, Jan 08-09, 2015, Soaltee Crowne Plaza.

 Entry Deadline: Dec 31, 2014

Expressing ideas final brochure I


Expressions will be judged on creativity and content. Judges will look for expressions that are clear, articulate and logically organized. Winning expressions must demonstrate good grasp of the themes and topics.

Associated Seminars

Ten short seminars (two hours every day except Sat-Sun) will be held between Dec 01-12, at Samriddhi Foundation’s premises on the topics of the competition to help the students prepare for competition.

The seminars are free and open to all students. However, seats will be limited and students are required to register their names beforehand by calling. 

  • Dec 01 & 08 : Adam Smith and the Invisible Hand
  • Dec 02 & 09: Hayek and Spontaneous Order
  • Dec 03 & 10: Milton Friedman and School Choice
  • Dec 04 & 11: Ayn Rand and Capitalism
  • Dec 05 & 12: Basitat and ‘What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen

Resources for the Competition available HERE.


  • For participation, applicants must be currently enrolled in undergraduate or post graduate program in any faculty.
  • Applicants are required to be between 18-26 years of age in order to participate.
  • Students can work alone or in a group not exceeding 5 members.
  • All submissions must be made in a recorded form. Quality of the video is not a part of the judging criteria and will be used for shortlisting purposes only.
  • Recorded submissions could be made online by sending an email to or at our office by December 30, 2014, no later than 5.00 PM, NST.
  • Registration is required for participation. Registration fee of NRs. 150 is applicable. Registration has to be done at Samriddhi Foundation’s Office at Minbhawan, Kharibot, Kathmandu.
  • Submissions have to made along with a copy of  student ids (scanned or printed) and contact details.
  • Samriddhi Foundation has the right to provide contest deadline extensions when deemed appropriate.
  • Submissions must be in Nepali or English language and should solely the work of the entrant(s). Plagiarism will result in disqualification.
  • Decisions of the judges are final.
  • All entries become the property of Samriddhi Foundation.
  • Contest winners agree to allow the Samriddhi Foundation to post their names on any of Samriddhi ’s affiliated websites with full credit given to the creator(s).
  • Winners will be solely responsible for any taxes that might apply.


Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation
P O Box: 8973 NPC 678
416, Bhimsengola Marg
Minbhawan Kharibot,
Kathmandu, Nepal.
Tel:  +977 1 4464616
Fax: +977 1 4485319


Sarita Sapkota

About Sarita Sapkota

Ms. Sapkota is the Coordinator of Communication and Development at Samriddhi Foundation and was previously engaged with the Foundation as a Research Associate for more than three years. She is a graduate of political science and also contributes articles for Samriddhi's column at The Himalayan Times' Perspectives supplement.

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