At the time when the NIEPA-NEPAL project on capacity building in the area of decentralised planning to develop district primary education plans in five pilot districts of NEPAL in 2001 was undetaken, a detailed review of then monotoring system was undertaken details of which is presented in this section many of the limitiations noticed at that time might have improved now.
For successful implementation of a programme, an effective monitoring system is essential. Monitoring is a mechanism to identify periodically the bottlenecks in implementing the programme and to take remedial measures to improve the effectiveness of the programme when the programme is still on. For effective monitoring system, an efficient management information system is essential without which neither the progress can be properly analyzed nor the corrective measures can be undertaken.
Since the frequency of data collection under the EMIS in NEPAL is annual, indicators generated through it can only be monitored annually. Information requirements that need to be monitored are different at different levels. Information on a few variables needs to be collected more than once in a year. The frequency of collection of such variables would depend upon the nature of a variable, objective of monitoring and level at which a particular variable is required to be monitored. Keeping in view the nature of a variable, frequency of monitoring can either be monthly, quarterly or annual. Therefore information requirements and frequency of collection will be different at village, RC, district, regional and national levels. Same set of indicators can be monitored at the village, RC, district and other higher levels. But all indicators need not be monitored at the lowest or the highest level. For example, average attendance should be monitored at the school/VDC/RC level, frequency of which may be monthly but the same is not required to be monitored at the national level on monthly basis. The remedial measures if any, in this case are to be initiated by the Head Master or VDC or RC Coordinator and not by the officers at the higher levels. Needless to mention that monitoring is always undertaken in relation to the targets which may either is annual or quarterly in nature. Village and RC level targets may be different from the national level targets.
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of monitoring is the feedback mechanism. It should not be one way. Keeping in view the responsibility and powers delegated to the officials and the community at different levels as also the nature of the variable, the level at which a variable needs to be monitored is decided. Progress on targets like, enrolment ratio, dropout rate, completion rate, access ratio etc. should be monitored annually at all levels. Keeping in view the progress, targets can also be revised. This will help officials to adopt alternative strategies. Similarly, there may be system level indicators, which should be monitored at the higher levels.
One of the other important aspects of monitoring is to identify agency that will be given responsibility of monitoring at different levels. This would also vary from level to level and may also vary from district to district. Therefore the monitoring framework and set of indicators that need to be monitored cannot be exactly the same for all the districts. However, there may be a set of common indicators/parameters across the districts. The districts may add additional variables for their own requirements to make it local-specific.
At the village level, bodies like, VDC/Village Education Committees, Parents’ Teachers’ Associations, etc. can be entrusted the task of monitoring. One or more of these bodies can be given responsibility of monitoring. In addition, individuals at village level, such as, teachers, head teacher/head master and village leaders can also be involved in monitoring. At the RC level RC-Coordinator can be entrusted with the task of monitoring. NGO’s and officers from other departments at the RC level can also be involved in the process of monitoring.
The district level, NGO’s and other departments and agencies in the district may be part of the monitoring process. In addition, possibilities should also be explored to involve district level institutions too in the process of monitoring (if available and relevant). At the national level, research and resource institutions, like NCED, University Education Departments etc. may be entrusted the task of monitoring. Possibilities should also be explored to identify experienced NGO’s so that the same is also involved in the process of monitoring at the national level.
The NIEPA team led by Prof. Yas Aggarwal was assisted by Arun C Mehta and SMIA Zaidi.