Nepal has become a leader in innovate education technologies in South Asia, allocating billions to provide its state-run secondary schools with computers and internet access. However, Nepal is also one of the most corrupt states in South Asia, and recent reports find those two qualities intersecting. Millions of rupees are reported to have been embezzled through school construction projects under the School Sector Reform Plan (SRRP) in the Nawalparasi District of Nepal.
Accusations are that construction relatively small, child-friendly classrooms—two-room adjunct facilities added to existing schools—were consistently over-budgeted. Projects that should have cost between 1.2 and 1.4 million rupees (about $12,000-14,000) were consistently budgeted at twice that amount. School principals argued that the construction companies were sending substandard bricks and other low-quality materials. “More than 5,000 of the 9,000 bricks supplied [to our project] so far were sub-standard,” said Damodar Pathak, head teacher in Rastriya Lower Secondary school in Sanai. The District Education Officer, Tek Bahadur Thapa, said his office had no financial responsibility for budgeting the projects. “We were only granted technical and managerial responsibility,” said Thapa. Kamal Sah, an engineer at the district education office, says that some 6 million rupees have been embezzled through the projects.
SRRP is an initiative backed by the World Bank devoted to “increas access and improv quality of school education, particularly basic education.” The projects in question, constructing child-friendly classrooms in as many as 40 schools in the Nawalparasi district, is underwritten by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which operates a number of education support programs in Nepal.
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