Addressing the teacher shortage crisis in Nepal: A call for action

published 26 June 2024 updated 26 June 2024

Nepal is grappling with a severe teacher shortage that threatens the future of its public education system. Despite the 2015 federal Constitution guaranteeing free and compulsory education, there is a critical shortage of over 65,000 teachers, particularly at lower secondary and secondary levels, to maintain national student-teacher ratios. Furthermore, 12.6 per cent of permanent positions are filled by temporary teachers, indicating a significant vacancy rate.

Under the Go Public! Fund Education campaign banner, Education International (EI) member organisations in the country are calling on their government to guarantee competitive salaries for teachers to improve recruitment and retention, making the profession more attractive and rewarding.

Going public: Implementing key recommendations to address shortage

In light of these pressing issues, education unions in Nepal—The Nepal Teacher's Association (NTA), the Nepal National Teachers Association (NNTA), and the Institutional Schools Teachers' Union (ISTU)—hosted a capacity building workshop from June 19-21, 2024, led by EI with the support of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) foundation. The workshop aimed to strategise and align efforts to strengthen the teaching profession in Nepal.

The workshop underscored the recommendations from the United Nations High-Level Panel (HLP) on the Teaching Profession, particularly those focusing on competitive salaries, fair benefits, and decent working conditions for teachers. The U.N. recommendations, drafted to address the global teacher shortage, emphasise the need for sufficient public funding and investment in the teaching profession to attract and retain qualified teachers, ensuring every child receives a quality education.

Key recommendations include:

  • Competitive salaries and incentives (R8): Governments should invest in teachers through competitive salaries, incentives, high-quality training, continuous professional development, and quality teaching materials.
  • Fair teacher salaries and benefits (R36): Ensure that teachers receive salaries and benefits comparable to other professions with similar educational requirements, and promote gender pay equity.
  • Decent working conditions (R37): Provide stable contracts, safe workplaces, manageable teacher-student ratios, balanced workloads, and adequate housing. Access to quality training and professional development is essential.
  • Funding for public education(R7): Guarantee at least 6 percent of GDP and 20 percent of total government expenditure for education, ensuring transparency and protection from austerity measures.
  • Ending contract teacher disparities(R19): Phase out contract teachers and unqualified personnel, providing training to become qualified teachers through recognition of previous experience and skills.

NNTA President Bishnu Bhandari highlighted: “Quality teachers are fundamental for quality education. The government should invest in continuing professional development, quality teaching, and learning materials, and ensure that all teachers are trained and qualified.”

NTA General Secretary Mr. Som Nath Giri stressed the importance of making the teaching profession more attractive by offering competitive salaries. He noted, “The profession will be respected, and people will be attracted to it if it pays well. With some teachers’ salaries as low as 8000 Nepali Rupees (USD 60), nobody wants to be a teacher. It is simply not possible to choose a career in teaching under such conditions.”

Mr. Moti Kumar Phuyal, co-president of ISTU, highlighted the relevance of the Go Public! campaign for Nepal. He stated, “We must all resolve to campaign for the Panel’s recommendations, particularly number 36 and 37, which highlight the need to make all teachers’ salaries competitive. In 2024, we should focus on these recommendations in all our activities and campaigns. In 2025, we must emphasise increased funding as stated in recommendation 7. In 2026, our focus should be on secure employment and decent working conditions for the retention and recruitment of teachers, as outlined in recommendation 35.”

The workshop concluded with a powerful statement calling on the government to address the urgent teacher shortage and ensure every child’s right to quality education. The statement highlighted the need for increased public investment in teachers and urged the government to take immediate actions according to the HLP’s recommendations. Read the full statement here.