Provisions for the education of special needs children is crucial to achieve universal education

Education: At least 1.2 percent or about 1,059 six-year-olds are out of school, according to the annual education statistics 2015.

These children include those in remote and hard to reach areas, children of nomadic communities and migrant populations, children with learning disabilities whose special learning needs are currently not catered for, dropouts and children of the urban poor.

More than 40 percent of children entering school for the first time are estimated to be older than six-years. It is also estimated that around five percent of the 6 -12 year olds are six-years old and not yet enrolled in schools. Given the limited space in urban areas and the difficult walking distances in remote areas, the education ministry assumes that most of them will be enrolled next year or the year after.

This year 13,882 children were enrolled in preprimary, 707 more than last year. There was an increase of 742 enrollments in 2014 from 2013.

Despite an increase in net primary enrollment rate (NPER) over the years, it will not be possible to achieve full enrolment, according to the education ministry.  The traditional definition of NPER looks only at children aged 6-12 years enrolled in the primary grades. This leaves out children of the same age group enrolled in the secondary level or in monastic schools.

Acknowledging the drawback of the traditional definition, the ministry recently came up with a new definition called Adjusted Net Enrolment Rate (ANER) to ensure that all children are accounted for when measuring primary education coverage.

The ANER takes into consideration all 6-12 year old children enrolled in the school system and also children enrolled in the monastic system.

The 2015 ANER for primary education or 6-12 years old children is 98.8 percent. Currently there are 99,291 primary students (PP-VI) enrolled in 539 primary and secondary schools. Of that 2.1 percent are enrolled in secondary classes and 1.5 percent are studying in monastic schools.

The annual statistics report states that in order to achieve universal primary education, it would be necessary to make provisions also for the education of all special needs children.

Nirmala Pokhrel