Kathmandu, Sept. 8: Collection of integrated data of education from all local levels has remained a big challenge to the government bodies owing to the absence of reporting channels in the new federal structure. A kind of tussle between local governments and the federal government seems to have surfaced regarding the management of education. Although the federal government has established a unit in every district to collect the data of local government in coordination with the local levels, majority of its units have failed to send the data of districts to the centre while many local governments argue that it is not mandatory for them to report a unit of the federal government because they are an autonomous body. The Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MoEST) is unable to receive the records of annual expenditure and physical development in education sector when its reporting channels got broken after the setup of federal system. In absence of authentic data, the ministry is facing tough times in devising plans and projects in education sector. There is no legal provision to make the local levels responsible to report to the different mechanisms of federal system. Only a few local governments have been reporting the unit on the basis of their understanding. But the legal provision has it that all local bodies are responsible to report the State government first and the State will forward it to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration. The MoEST has established Education Development and Coordination Unit (EDCU) in every district to collect the data and facilitate local governments in education sector. However, many units are unable to collect the figure while legal mechanism does not make them mandatory to share their data to the unit, Baikuntha Aryal, spokesperson of the MOEST said. If local levels act according to the legal provision, the government may not even have national figure of teachers, students and schools, Aryal said. “But such situation may not occur for now because they have been collecting every student’s profile from Web Based Students’ Information Management System (WBSIMS),” he added. The ministry has been allocating budget for scholarship and mid-day tiffin programme on the basis of figures submitted through SIMS. Therefore, all schools have been directly submitting their forms to the federal government, rather than sending them through local levels. The local levels themselves have rights to make spending plan over 70 per cent budget and the federal government will plan for 30 per cent budget under conditional grant. “Now the Ministry is completely unaware about the progress status of budget expenditure and physical development. So, the Ministry has been facing difficulties to make new budget because the Ministry has not been informed about the progress of last year,” Aryal. “The MoEST is also unable to get the required information even from MOFAGA, though the federal system set reporting channel through MOFAGA. All previous channels were broken in federal system. So, establishing a reporting channel has become urgent,” Aryal said. Before the country adopted federalism, the MoEST used to deploy more 1300 resource persons across the country. And they did reporting via the then District Education Offices. Not only in the sector of education, but also in other sectors, are the
local levels unable to function properly in lack of employees. The Ministry hopes that the problem will be resolved after the completion of the employee adjustment, Ramesh Adhikari, under-secretary at the MOFAGA said. “Many employees deployed at the local are new faces in the system and are unaware about the programme. So, the reporting has not been smooth as earlier. It will take time for employees to understand the system,” Adhikari said. Ashok Kumar Byanju (Shrestha), mayor of Dhulikhel Municipality and the chairperson of the Municipal Association of Nepal said, “The federal level wants to impose their dictatorship in the local level as previous. But, now, the local levels are autonomous and it is not mandatory to report its status to the unit. But we all local levels are liberal to give the report if any unit asks for it.” Home Narayan Shrestha, head of Jugal Rural Municipality and chairperson of National Association of Rural Municipalities in Nepal, said though his rural municipality did the reporting to the Education Development and Coordination Unit (EDCU), of the district but the unit denied to keep their record. Regarding this, Krishna Subedi, head of EDCU, Sindhupalchowk, said that Jugal Rural Municipality asked them to report it in the centre to give validity to their work which was against the legal provision. But the unit denied reporting that and agreed to keep it only as record at unit. Subedi said the local government decided to distribute teaching license and appoint teachers themselves which is also against of the provision. We just denied to send the record of only such teachers at the Registration office (Kitabkhana). Subedi further said out of 12 local levels in the district, three are municipalities. And they are not facing any problem in term of working together with municipalities. But, they have been facing problem in the rural municipalities. Education officers deployed in municipalities know the system well. But, lack of employees and lack of knowledge among the existing limited number of employees have created the current problems, he added.