Kathmandu - Hundred days have already passed ever since Rameshwor Shrestha assumed the post of mayor in Mahalaxmi Municipality, Lalitpur. He says he still remembers promises delivered to his people before the local elections but lack of legal powers has hampered the implementation of his goals.
‘I have already spent more than 100 days in office but I have not been able to deliver my promises of establishing a science stream in a plus two. Not only this issue, it is difficult to deliver other education related pledges,’ he said.
The difficulty Shrestha is facing is the result of the deadlock over handover of the education related powers to local bodies. Mayor of Bhadrapur Municipality in eastern Nepal says he is also facing similar obstacles.“We are in a state of confusion. There is no harmony between what the elected representatives are trying to do and the provisions in the education act,” said Mayor Jiban Kumar Shrestha.
The new constitution entrusted the responsibility of secondary education to local governments. However the elected representatives are still forced to rely upon the policy of the central government in the absence of adequate law to exercise this responsibility. The reluctance of civil servants to work in local bodies have already disappointed some of the ‘energetic’ newly appointed local leaders who are all set to revitalise the local bodies which were defunct for nearly two decades.“So far we have only two focal resource persons. It is not possible to fulfil our responsibilities with this shortfall of staff.”
The local governments are preparing to distribute salaries for education related staffs first time after receiving the power regarding management of secondary education. However, lack of clear policy and directives are creating obstacles in all the six provinces where local representatives have already been elected.
Many experts have opined that the transfer of authority regarding school education to local governments could pave way for improving the quality of education. Some local bodies despite their constraints are trying to exercise their responsibility. They have conducted meetings of the school management committees and conference of principal and teachers but they are yet to take steps on policy reforms.
Some of the elected representatives have started works to formulate education policy and education act. One of them is Banepa Municipality based in Kavre. Rekha Dahal, the deputy mayor of Banepa says the failure to form education subcommittee is hindering efforts to work on educational reforms.
Mayors of Mahalaxmi Municipality and Bhadrapur Municipality say they are drafting the municipal education act in order to improve the quality of education. They say the law would be in accordance to the education act and regulation and help them work towards resolving education related problem and strengthen capability of teachers among others. Mayor of Lumbini Sanskritik Municipality Manmohan Chaudhary says he plans to form a team to work for improving the quality of education.
The elected representatives are frustrated that they are still not able to exercise the rights envisaged in the constitution. Som Mishra, the mayor of Changunaryan Municipality says, “The Education Ministry has dispatched officials responsible to look after education in local bodies. But they are yet to be present in the office. We are in the state of confusion and indecision.’