Nepal is a country of great natural resources and beauty, one that is literally and metaphorically dominated by the influence and culture of the great mountain range, the Himalayas that are located in its midst. Mount Everest, which stands 29,025 feet tall, soars above the terrain and influences all life in Nepal and has shaped the county’s character and culture. As the culture of the great mountain Chomolungma dominates the Nepalese people, the other traditional mountain of influence in the country has been from its key ally and neighbor India.
The landlocked country of Nepal, approximately the size and shape of Tennessee, is bordered by Tibet to the North and is surrounded by India on its other borders. The Himalayan mountain range encompasses approximately one third of the country and includes eight of the world’s highest peaks. The population of Nepal is approximately 26 million with more than half of the population living below the poverty line. It is a country that is multi-ethnic and with diverse dialects spoken across the primarily rural terrain. Agriculture and tourism are the primary economic mainstays for the citizens of Nepal. Eighty percent of the Nepalese people follow the Hindu religion making it the most Hinduic nation in the world. After many centuries of rule by absolute monarchs, including the reign of the powerful and pro-British Rana dynasty from the mid 19th century until 1953, in 1990, Nepal became a constitutional monarchy.
Although much progress has been made in the educational system in Nepal over the past 30 years, many challenges still remain. Despite recent efforts the educational system of Nepal remains largely urban biased. With roughly 84 of every 100 children in Nepal living in remote villages with minimal infrastructure and limited government funding, the primary challenge facing the Nepalese people is the ability to meet the educational needs of the population outside of the capital city of Kathmandu. With the annual influx of tourists, the official language of the Nepalese people, Nepali, has largely been replaced by English in the educational and the economic arenas. The lack of computer access and knowledge in most of the country is a major obstacle in the future educational and economic prospects of the Nepalese population. However, with the recent implementation of the 7th amendment of the Education Act, the government in Nepal has undertaken a restructuring and decentralization of the primary and secondary education system in an effort to channel funds, empower, and consolidate local school districts to increase the enrollment rate for both boys and girls.
Primary and Secondary Education
The educational system in Nepal is largely based on the Indian education system which is modeled after the British system of education. The Ministry of Education (MOE) oversees the planning and coordination of the educational system and funding is provided primarily by the government. Previously, elementary and secondary education followed a 5+3+2+2 sequence. However, due to the reforms that were introduced in 2016, the educational system has been restructured and the credentials have been renamed
Previous educational cycles have since been merged and the Nepali system now represents 8 years of primary education and 4 years of secondary education. At the end of grade 10, students sit the Secondary Education Examination (SEE). Upon successful completion, they transition into grades 11 and 12, which culminate in the School Leaving Certificate Examination (SLCE). Both the SEE and SLCE are issued by the recently established National Examinations Board.
Upper or higher secondary study is also offered at Tribhuvan University, the University of Kathmandu and at Mahendra Sanskrit University (Sanskrit stream). Successful completion leads in the award of the Proficiency Certificate (Tribhuvan University), the Intermediate Certificate (Kathmandu University) or the Uttar Madhyama Examinations Certificate (Mahendra Sanskrit University). Note that these “university preparatory” programs are being phased out.
Technical and Vocational Education
Technical or Vocational education is offered at a variety of levels. Short-term programs typically have no entry requirements. Lasting less than a year, these programs can lead to a National Skills Test Certificate. The Technical School Leaving Certificate (TSLC) program, on the other hand, lasts between 15 and 29 months and typically requires the Secondary Education Examination, or completion of grade 10, for entry. Diploma and Technician Certificate programs are 3 years in length, requiring the SEE or the TSLC for admission. Depending on the area of study, Diplomas and Technician Certificates may give access to bachelor’s degree programs at universities.
Upon completion of a grade 12 credential, such as the School Leaving Certificate Examination (SLCE) or Proficiency Certificate, a student may elect to enroll in a university for further post-secondary study leading to a bachelor’s degree. There are five institutions of higher education that provide the majority of educational programs at the post-secondary level (Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu University, Mahendra Sanskrit University, Purbanchal University and B.P. Korala Institute of Health and Science). The University Grants Commission allocates the budget for institutions of higher education which is dispersed through the Ministry of Education (MOE) and each university is autonomous. The bachelor’s degree may be 3-6 years in length depending on the field of study. The bachelor’s degree in most fields is a 4-year program of study with the bachelor’s degree in Sanskrit being 3 years in length and the medical and veterinary bachelor’s degree being 5-6 years in duration. Completion of a bachelor’s degree may lead to further higher education and enrollment in the master’s degree program which is 2 years in length and requires one year of National Development Service. The Master of Philosophy is 1.5 years of study beyond the master’s degree and requires completion of coursework, examination and dissertation. One-year Post-Graduate Diplomas are also offered after completion of the bachelor’s degree. A Doctor of Philosophy is offered after completion of the master’s degree and is 3-5 years.
Ten-month programs are available for preparing primary school teachers after completion of the grade 10 Secondary Education Examination (SEE). The 3-year Bachelor of Education is available for training secondary school teachers after completion of the grade 12 School Leaving Certificate Examination. Alternatively, bachelor’s degree holders in a non-education field may pursue the 1-year Bachelor of Education.
There is no formal distance education in Nepal. Technical training programs are also provided by the various governmental agencies and ministries in fields such as telecommunications, aviation, surveying and tourism. These are non-formal studies that lead to vocational and employment based certification.