Discussion Paper: Possibility of Education Vouchers in Nepal

Education voucher discussion paper - Samriddhi

The abject performance of public schools in the country has led to a massive zero-enrollment rate in hundreds of public schools across the country. Why then is the national budget on education not looking at a radically different approach to revamp the status of these failing schools?

Education vouchers, an understandably new concept in Nepal, could prove to be a useful targeted experiment in the country. It is understandable that school officials may be skeptical of its worth, thus this paper calls for an initial means-tested targeted school voucher use in economically disadvantaged areas. After all, the primary purpose of all education institutions should be to provide quality education to children, regardless of them being privately or publicly owned. While the debate of efficiency between the two is omnipresent, there needs to be recognition of the fact that the guardian’s and/or the student’s own interest to choose between the two should not be thought of as secondary. In this goal, vouchers become the ideal solution.

As presented in the paper, education vouchers shall effectively curtail roles of numerous middlemen whereby funds shall reach students rather than institutions directly. They shall also help foster healthy competition between public and private schools and thus make schools more accountable towards children as they shall be directly funded via vouchers as fees. There have also been noted instances (as explained previously) of how vouchers help better the teaching pool. Retention rates would also likely improve if we better incentivize the education system. The voucher idea has been replicated in numerous areas the world over and we would do well to consider these models.

Vouchers can prove to be radical experiments but rejecting them outright before having administered them may not be the best of plans, particularly when so many public school students feel the burden of competing with privately educated peers.

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