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Local Government's Policy Initiatives for Quality Education


Nepalnews
2023 Sep 26, 12:02, Kathmandu

Local level education policy initiatives in education are crucial as they allow communities to address specific educational needs and tailor programs to the unique characteristics of their students and community. These initiatives often involve collaboration among local government agencies, schools, non-profit organizations, and community leaders to ensure the success of educational efforts at grassroot level.

In a significant move towards advancing education in Baglung district, Jaimini municipality has allocated a budget to expand the scope of community volunteers 'Thuli Didi’ Big Sister for the current fiscal year (2080/81). Since 2021, VSO Nepal has mobilized Thulididi across 33 community schools within the municipality, as part of 'SIKAI' project. Big Sisters are local volunteers who contribute to promote the regularity of students into the classroom and also change existing social norms and practices. Their mobilization has made significant contributions to promote inclusive education, increase learning achievements. As a result, the municipality has taken ownership of the approach and allocated a budget of NPR. 594,000 for the first time in the municipality budget.

Khem Prasad Acharya, the Information Officer of the municipality said, the allocated budget aims to extend the concept of 'Thulididi' from the initial 33 schools to encompass all 80 public schools within the municipality. These 'Big Sisters' have been successful in contributing to enhancing inclusive learning through continuous engagement and discussions with teachers, parents, community, school management committees, students, and other stakeholders of the school.'

Acharya further said that as an initiative of the municipality to take ownership and continue the experiences and successful practices gained through the SIKAI project, a budget of NPR. 594,000 has been allocated for the current financial year to provide these volunteers with incentives of 1500 rupees per month. Nar Bahadur Pun, Mayor of the municipality said that the integration of working modality of Big Sister into municipality’s budget ( Red book), with the consensus of all concerned parties in the budget to be endorsed by the municipal assembly is a testimony to the fact that if it is a program that benefits the people and community, the local government will take ownership of the project even those initiated by the non-governmental organizations.

The successful and effective work carried out under the SIKAI project has been adopted by the municipality at the policy level, and the project has assisted the municipality in formulating certain policies.


Formulation of Local Education Act

The Constitution of Nepal 2015 enshrines the right to basic and secondary education. To fulfill this responsibility, the local government should prioritize policymaking, planning, budget allocation and programs implementation. To provide legal clarity to these responsibilities, the municipality has passed and implemented the Local Education Act.

As the Education Act must align with the national goals, international commitments of the federal government, and the priorities of the local governments, the involvement of multi-stakeholders is necessary in its development. In this context, Deputy Mayor Harihar Sharma highlighted the valuable contributions of SIKAI project in addressing inclusive and quality education. He emphasized that the project has played a pivotal role in refining and gaining acceptance for the local education law. This was achieved through extensive discussion with local government officials and incorporation of suggestions/recommendations rooted in the project’s field experiences and best practices.

The municipality is currently in the finalization stages of its periodic plan, with a strong emphasis on achieving the SDG goal of inclusive and quality education. According to the municipality, the initiatives carried out under the project have been instrumental in documenting innovative programmes within the plan that can help to achieve effective results with a small investment for the development of inclusive, quality education. The best practices have raised awareness about the geographical complexity, importance of education and improving access to quality education for children from marginalized communities and have been helpful for policymaking and planning of the municipality. The municipality believes that these successful and good practices are also useful for the periodic plan of the municipality.

Local Curriculum Development

Jaimini Municipality has developed a local curriculum for grade one to eight, which has been successfully implemented across all 80 public schools within the municipality. This curriculum includes components focused on promoting local products, exploring historical perspectives, emphasizing agricultural potential, language and culture, geography and biography of local personalities.

Deputy Mayor Harihar Sharma expressed that while efforts to develop a local curriculum had been ongoing since the establishment of the local government, there was need for a discussion and debate to ensure clarity in its process and content. In this regard, SIKAI project has made significant contributions by engaging stakeholders in the curriculum development process through discussions and dialogues. He further reiterated, that the support provided by the project in facilitation, organizing workshops to make it participatory, especially reflecting the local needs has become a helpful effort for the municipality.

Implementation of policy measures

According to the municipality, the result obtained from its efforts to implement existing policies has provided inspiration for improving school education. In response, grievance hearing committees have been formed in 33 schools within the municipality to implement the procedures developed and enforced by the federal government in 2017 for addressing complaints within schools. Khem Prasad Acharya, head of the education section of the municipality, says, "With the help of SIKAI project, the members of these grievance hearing committees have been trained in handling complaints within schools. Additionally, complaint boxes have been installed in the schools and have also encouraged the establishment of a complaint box in the remaining 47 schools. Likewise, to align with the School Education Sector Plan 2021, Girls and Inclusive Education Network (GIEN) composed of girls, youth and adult members as representatives from a range of stakeholders have been formed at the municipality level. The network will act as a catalyst to provide opportunities to women, girls and marginalized people within the education landscape and activate school level GIEN. By addressing the problems faced by students in school, these inclusive education activities will be proven to be effective in creating a favorable academic environment for both learning and teaching.

Harihar Sharma, the Deputy Mayor of the municipality, also highlights that the dialogue facilitated by SIKAI project with the participation of stakeholders related to education such as parents, students, teachers, educationists, media professionals and civil society members etc. have played a pivotal role in formulating and implementing local policies related to quality education envisioned by the municipality.


READ ALSO:

educational Organizations Local level education community grassroot local government agencies Baglung district local volunteers
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