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Results BriefsAugust 23, 2023

Nepal Makes Rapid Improvements in Quality and Inclusiveness of Education

Students and a teacher in a classroom in Nepal

World Bank


The World Bank-supported School Sector Development Program (SSDP), established by Nepal to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its school system, achieved remarkable results. The program resulted in a 75 percent success rate for disadvantaged students attaining a GPA of 1.6 in Grade 10 exams. It introduced targeted scholarships, which helped girls and vulnerable children stay in school and strengthened assessment systems. The program also reduced the number of out-of-school children by 6.76 percent, surpassing the 5.6 percent target.


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 2015 Constitution emphasized political devolution and a federal structure, demonstrating a commitment to greater inclusion. Nevertheless, the lack of coherence on federalism specifics, particularly roles and responsibilities, and implementation delays affected people's expectations.


The development objective of the School Sector Development Program (SSDP) was to enhance quality, equitable access, and efficiency in Nepal's basic and secondary education by supporting the Government's SSDP.

The Bank’s Program for Results (PforR) instrument had two aims: to ensure disbursement-linked indicators (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.

Additionally, an investment project financing (IPF) component funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) COVID-19 Accelerated Funds was processed under emergency procedures to address the pandemic's impact on the basic education system and school closures.



The project, which was approved in March 2017 and closed in July 2022, achieved the following results:

  • The total survival rate to Grade 12 increased from 11.5 percent in 2016 to 33.1 percent in 2022 (against a target of 25 percent). For girls it increased to 33.9 percent, exceeding the survival rate for boys.
  • The out-of-school children number was reduced by 6.76 percent nationwide (against the target of 5.6 percent) during the SSDP period (2016-2022).
  • 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).
  • The NER for secondary education in the 15 most disadvantaged districts increased from 29.1 percent in 2016 to 44.1 percent in 2022 (against a target of 44.3 percent), and for girls, it increased from 27 percent to 43.4 percent (against a target of 43.1 percent). 
  • Over 99 percent of funds disbursed to schools followed eligibility and utilization guidelines according to audit observations.
  • Approximately 8.2 million number of students benefitted from direct interventions to enhance learning, of which 4.07 million were girls.

World Bank Contribution

  • Strengthened governance, fiduciary management, data systems and institutional capacity for results-based program implementation (US$65.6 million)
  • Improved access to basic and retention in secondary schools (US$42.4 million)
  • National Curriculum Framework Revised and Implemented (US$24 million)
  • Assessment and examination system reforms undertaken to improve teaching and learning (US$28 million)
  • Improved School Management and Accountability System (US$32 million)
  • Improved Teacher Management and Accountability (US$62 million)
  • Proficiencies and habits strengthened in early grades (US$4.96 million)
  • COVID-19 School Sector Response (US$10.85 million)


The SSDP was funded by the Government of Nepal and 10 joint financing partners (JFP): The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Union, Finland, Global Partnership for Education, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Norway, Results in Education for All Children Multi-Donor Trust Fund, UNICEF, and USAID. The JFPs adopted 10 disbursement-linked indicators (DLIs), with a higher number of disbursement-linked results (DLRs).

The World Bank was crucial in uniting the Development Partners to support a results-based approach, adhering to a shared set of DLIs and a common verification method for achieving results.

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 (US$2,688.42 million), IDA credit (US$120 million), co-financing from Global Partnership for Education Fund (US$19.70 million), and co-financing from other Joint Financing Partners (US$276.98 million).

The operation will largely pursue the same goals, with an enhanced focus on improving quality of education, and extend the earlier collaboration. The follow-on operation will support additional reforms, including the establishment and implementation of a teacher mentorship system, further expansion of pro-poor scholarships to upper basic levels, the implementation of a Recovery and Accelerated Learning Plan, and the introduction of performance grants to local governments.