Field Bulletin nr. 48: Community-managed Schools in Dailekh District: a local perspective
Until the 1950s, education in Nepal was a privilege available only to those closely associated with the Royal or Rana oligarchy families. The ending of autocratic rule of the Rana family in 1951 opened the space for communities to establish schools at the community level usually with the support of local benefactors and, by 1971, all schools in Nepal were community managed. In order to maintain central control of the education sector, the Government of Nepal (GoN) endorsed the first Education Act in 1971, which initiated an era of state management1.
In 2001, in line with Nepal’s broader reform agenda to decentralize government services and involve communities in local governance2, the GoN amended the Education Act and re-introduced the community management concept by transferring the management of state-owned public schools to local communities3. The GoN introduced various incentives to support this policy and, in 2011, over one third of the 30,000 government-run public schools were managed by local communities4. Besides enhancing participation and fostering ownership among local communities, the transfer aims to improve the quality of education and increase the overall efficiency and accountability of public schools5.
However, since their inception, community-managed schools in many areas have faced severe levels of politicization that have led to disruptions, tensions and conflict. This Field Bulletin aims to provide local level perspectives on community-managed schools in Dailekh district, a hill district in the Mid Western Region, based on the observations of local government officials, civil society representatives, School Management Committee members, teachers, students and the public. These stakeholders observe that community-managed schools have been an important mechanism through which communities have taken ownership over the provision of education. However, these schools are often crippled by high levels of politicization with negative implications for the overall functioning and performance of community-managed schools. While this Field Bulletin examines only the situation in Dailekh, the district represents a snapshot of how Nepal’s protracted political and governance transition is undercutting an essential public good––quality education––across many parts of Nepal.