Higher Education and Challenges

Steeped in ignorance and having suffered for want of literacy for centuries, we now know that education constitutes the mainspring of development.

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Nepal is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity due to its unique geographical position and altitudinal variation. The elevation of the country ranges from 60 m above sea level to the highest point on earth, Mt. Everest at 8,848 m; all within a distance of 150 km. Nepal has always allured the world with her majestic mountains, picturesque beauty and the serenity in the hearts of her people. Bestowed with natural richness, Nepal is endowed with the historical and cultural aspects of interest. The historical buildings, temples and stupas of Nepal call the attention of individuals from every nook and corner of the world. However, in our country, challenges remain far from attaining the goals for development. For, Nepal is rather a complex mixture of many aspects and conditions like extreme poverty, complex geo-political situation and a very little literacy circle. This demands not only hard work but also collective commitment, balanced strategy and priority policy. Steeped in ignorance and having suffered for want of literacy for centuries, we now know that education constitutes the mainspring of development. The significance of Education for all is no less than “the achievement of a better life for all people, grounded in civilized values and human rights and responsibilities” (12, Education for All Global Synthesis). So, to protect the mission of Education for All, with creating women's equal access to education and assimilation of deprived and marginalized people are the greatest challenges for us in the present context.

The structure of education in Nepal can be divided into five clear parts.
1. Primary level: from standard 1 to standard 5
2. Lower secondary level: from standard 6 to standard 8
3. Secondary level: from standard 9 to standard 10 (also known as the School Leaving Examinations).
4. Higher Secondary level from standard 11 to standard 12 (under Higher secondary education Board), and
5. University level: Undergraduate and above Higher education in Nepal started in 1958 with the establishment of Tribhuwan university. At present, higher education in Nepal is offered by six universities: Tribhuvan University (TU), Mahendra Sanskrit University (MSU), Kathmandu University, Purbanchal University and Pokhara University.

Apart from this, there are also other institutions such as Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) and Center for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) that run higher education program both at liberal arts and technical education.


University/ Institutions

Constituent Campuses

Affiliated Campuses

Total Campuses

Number of Students










































Table 1: Number of Students in Different Higher Education Institutions (UGC Annual Report 2005/2006)


Out of the total enrolment in these universities, TU accounts for about 90% of tertiary enrolment followed by Purwanchal, Pokhara and Kathmandu universities. Universities deliver their academic programs through publicly-funded constituent campuses and privately-funded affiliated campuses. Affiliated campuses consist of both community campuses and private campuses. Community and private campuses account for 27% and 9% of the tertiary enrolment respectively, and constituent campuses for the rest. HSEB enrolls about 1,60,000 students at grade 11 every year and CTEVT enrolls 5000 students in its various technical and vocational courses. In the past, the share of higher education provider was occupied solely by the government run institutions. Since the government adopted open policy of allowing the non-government sector in the higher education, the private sector has been attracted to this and as a result, the private colleges in higher education have outnumbered the government funded colleges. At present there are 485 privately run colleges under different universities that run undergraduate and post graduate programs in different subjects.

Similarly, there are altogether 1197 higher secondary schools that are affiliated to HSEB and out of them 687 are managed by communities in public schools and the rest are managed by the private schools and colleges. Nepal's higher education system has undergone serious changes during the last two decades owing to the establishment of a multi-university concept that opened the system to private provision, as well as the introduction of decentralization in TU, and introduction of higher secondary education. The universities are more autonomous and they operate academically independently but they receive a substantial financial support from the government through the government body called University Grants Commission (UGC). In case of higher secondary schools, HSEB is responsible for affiliation, curriculum development, program monitoring and examination administration. In addition to this, HSEB also provides some financial support to the community managed higher secondary schools. The following section outlines the role of HSEB in higher education in Nepal: Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) was established in 1989 under the Higher Secondary Education Act. The Board is involved in running the 10+2 system in the country. Nepal National Commission of Education 1992 recommended the importance of the 10+2 structure in the education system and viewed it as the first step towards specialization. However, it was felt that the 10+2 structure should essentially focus on the need for addressing middle level manpower requirements and for imparting necessary knowledge and skills to those students who want to continue their education at undergraduate level.

The objectives of Higher Secondary Education are to:
• Prepare students for the world of work especially in meeting middle level manpower requirements in different fields.
• Prepare students for general higher education and for professional disciplines.

The main functions of the HSEB are as follows:
• Granting approval for +2 schools.
• Developing and revising curricula and textbook materials.
• Conducting examinations and publishing results.
• Awarding certificates to higher Secondary School graduates.
• Supervising and monitoring Higher Secondary School programs.
• Implementing plans and programs for improving Higher Secondary Education.
• Recruiting technical, professional and administrative staff.
• Designing and implementing training programs for +2 school teachers and other staff.




(Introduction part of Regional Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas and Degrees in Higher Education in Asia and the Pacific 22-23 May 2007, Korea)

Presented by:
Mr. Devi Prasad Barakoti
Higher Secondary Education Board
Sanothimi, Bhaktapur, Nepal


2010-12-01 | EducateNepal


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