Go Public! Advocating for progressive taxation to fund public education in Nepal

published 5 July 2023 updated 12 July 2023

Education leaders and representatives from civil society came together at a three-day capacity building workshop in Nepal with a pressing agenda: to address the urgent need for increased domestic funding in the country's public education system. Their primary objective was to strengthen public education financing and advocate for the implementation of progressive taxation measures.

The EOL/TaxEd Alliance capacity building workshop, held in Kathmandu from April 29th to May 1st , was a collaborative effort between Education International, Action Aid International, and the Alliance for Tax and Fiscal Justice, as part of the TaxEd Alliance project. The workshop provided a platform for Education International member organisations in Nepal and representatives from civil society organisations such as Action Aid Nepal, National Coalition for Education Nepal, and Tax and Fiscal Justice Alliance to voice their concerns and share their insights.

During the workshop, participants discussed the alarming decrease in education funding in Nepal, which has dropped from 16 per cent to 11.5 per cent of the national budget over the past decade. They stressed the importance of proper allocation and utilization of funds to address the education system's critical needs.

Strengthening Education Funding and Promoting Gender Equality

On the second day, Illam Bahadur Shahi, senior deputy chairman of EI’s affiliate, the Nepal Teachers' Association, shared successful agreements with four local governments to increase funding for education and ensure substitute teachers for those on maternity leave. Discussions also delved into promoting gender equality, by exploring the need for meaningful participation of women at all levels of the education system.

Pravesh Acharya, of the Tax and Fiscal Justice Alliance, presented opportunities to increase funding for public education through fair and just taxation. Participants acknowledged the existence of loopholes in the tax system and recognised the potential for generating substantial public funds by addressing these issues.

Highlighting the challenges posed by the global economic crisis, economist Dilli Raj Khanal emphasised the need for increased funding and taxation policies to support public services and teachers. He recommended the creation of a new fund at the United Nations and the allocation of 1.2-2 trillion USD in Special Drawing Rights to assist highly affected countries.

In Nepal and beyond: Go Public! Fund Education

Education International's Regional Director, Anand Singh, stressed the significance of the "Go Public! Fund Education" global campaign, addressing pressing issues such as teacher shortages, poor learning outcomes, public funding constraints, and the critical role of fair taxation in the education sector. The campaign seeks to highlight education as a fundamental human right and calls for the government to prioritise direct taxation as a means of ensuring equitable and inclusive education funding.

To support and actively engage with the campaign, participants outlined a year-long campaign plan focusing on relevant issues at the national level. These include increasing the number of teachers, raising student lunch meal allowances, ensuring substitute teachers for those on maternity leave, enrolling private school teachers in the Social Security Fund, and enhancing awareness of human and trade union rights among union activists.

At the conclusion of the workshop, a press conference was held to publicly announce the Go Public! Fund Education campaign objectives and plans. Education International member organizations in Nepal, including the Nepal National Teachers Association (NNTA), the Nepal Teachers Association (NTA) and the Institutional Schools' Teachers' Union (ISTU), expressed their deep concern over Nepal's ability to attain inclusive high-quality public education by 2030, as outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4. They also emphasised the importance of state responsibility in providing quality education to all citizens and urged greater investment in public education systems.

During the press conference, Education International member organizations in Nepal, together with their partners, highlighted the significance of the Go Public! Fund Education campaign and stated that the campaign seeks to build a strong and sustainable Tax and Education Alliance at the national level, with a unified commitment to advocating for education and tax justice. “As the campaign gains momentum, it is hoped that increased public financing for education will become a reality, fostering a brighter future for Nepal's education system and its students,” stated Anand Singh.

For more information on the current state of education in Nepal, you can access Education International’s Go Public Fact Sheet here.