The Dynamics of Financial Accountability in Nepal’s Community Schools
In the last two decades, Nepal’s education system has undergone significant decentralization process conferring financial powers and responsibilities, among others, to the local governments (LGs) and school actors. The Constitution of Nepal, 2015 and Local Governance Operation Act 2017 has further institutionalized such powers and functions to LGs relating managing school education. At the school level, head teacher, School Management Committee and accountant should cooperate and collaborate for tasks related to financial transactions. As the major bulk of school funds transferred from the center involves recurrent (mainly teacher-salary) and conditional grants (construction, scholarship, textbook, etc that has to be used for the specified purpose), school stakeholders can use limited funds at their own discretion. In this context, to what extent is the performance of local stakeholders consistent with the policy provision and norms set out by the center? How do local stakeholders perceive and practice fiscal accountability in the school context? How do they negotiate their decisions among/between the local actors? And, what factors affect for such decisions making processes?
Drawing on case studies of two community schools in Kailali district of far western Nepal, this paper will look at the anomalies between fiscal policies and practices, and explore the dynamics of contextual factors that contribute or constrain in holding school actors accountable in terms of their financial duties and responsibilities in the changed context of federalism in Nepal. It will further shed light and critique on the mode of Nepal’s decentralization process in the education sector.