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BRIEFOctober 6, 2023

Strengthening School Systems in Nepal

Strengthening School Systems in Nepal


Over the past two decades Nepal made significant strides in education access, equity, and completion rates, but several challenges persisted in improving learning outcomes, equitable access, and system strengthening. These included: inconsistent education quality at basic and secondary levels, with learning outcomes varying by geography, school, and individual/household characteristics; a considerable number of out-of-school children in basic education and low transition to and retention in secondary schools, particularly for disadvantaged children; and systemic constraints within the school sector.


The School Sector Development Program (SSDP) was launched to enhance quality, equitable access, and efficiency in Nepal’s basic and secondary education. The program was designed to assist the Government’s own SSDP and in addition to the Bank’s PforR, also included 9 joint financing partners (JFP), including the Asian Development Bank, European Union, Finland, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Norway. The World Bank was crucial in uniting the Development Partners to support a results-based approach, adhering to a shared set of disbursement-linked indicators (DLIs) and a common verification method for achieving results.

The Bank’s Program for Results (PforR) instrument had two aims: to ensure DLIs focused on accountability for results and outcomes, incentivizing government ownership and implementation of vital reforms and policies in the education sector; and reinforce the use of country systems for program implementation, fiduciary, environmental, and social systems, and monitoring arrangements in a sector-wide approach (SWAP).

The DLI-based reforms in school and teacher management, accountability, and system strengthening in data and fiduciary arrangements emphasized quality improvements, equitable access, participation, and learning outcomes.


As a result of the project, the SSDP was able to achieve a number of successful results:

·       Over 5 years of the project, closing in 2022, the survival rate to Grade 12 increased significantly for both boys and girls, from 11.5 percent in 2016 to 33.1 percent in 2022 (against a target of 25 percent). For girls, the increase in the survival rate (33.9%) exceeded that for boys.

·       The number of out-of-school children was reduced by 6.76 percent nationwide, and the net enrollment rate (NER) for basic education in the 15 most disadvantaged districts increased from 85.1 percent in 2016 to 92.2 percent in 2022 (against a target of 91.4 percent) and for girls, it increased from 83.6 percent in 2016 to 90.9 percent in 2022 (against a target of 90 percent)..

·       As a result of this effort, approximately 8.2 million students benefitted from direct interventions to enhance learning, of which close to half were girls.

The program design, disbursement, and results ensured and emphasized both flexibility and accountability from all partners involved. As a result, over 99 percent of funds disbursed to schools followed eligibility and utilization guidelines according to audit observations. In addition, the reforms backed by the PforR have now been institutionalized under the Government of Nepal’s program, such as pro-poor targeted scholarships, examination standardization, curriculum reforms, single subject certification policy, strengthened assessment systems, and encouraging teacher time spent in teaching. The success of the program’s objectives, and the institutionalization of reforms that arose from it highlight the importance and efficacy of co-financing and partnerships between the World Bank and its partner institutions.

Nepal School 2 image

Looking Ahead:

Numerous reforms backed by the PforR have been institutionalized under the government’s program, such as pro-poor targeted scholarships, examination standardization, curriculum reforms, single subject certification policy, strengthened assessment systems, EMIS policy guidelines, and encouraging teacher time spent teaching. In March 2023, the World Bank approved the School Sector Transformation Program Operation to support the Government’s School Education Sector Plan (2023-27), with financing sources from Government of Nepal, IDA credit, co-financing from Global Partnership for Education Fund and co-financing from other Joint Financing Partners. The operation will largely pursue the same goals, with an enhanced focus on improving quality of education, and extend the earlier collaboration.