The term information and communication technology (ICT) is used in numerous government documents, such as the 2013-17 ICT in Education Master Plan and 2015 National ICT Policy, although no specific definition of the term was found.
The 2002 Education Rules (last amended in 2016) define distance education as “the education given on any subject through correspondence, audio-visual or other communication media”. The Education Act 2028 (1971, as amended in 2017) refers to open and distance education as a type of education, but makes no other mention of technology.
The term education technology (EdTech) is not used in government documents.
Constitution and laws: The 2015 Constitution of Nepal has linked science and technology with the country's overall and sustainable development. The Education Act 2028 (1971, as amended in 2017) refers to open and distance education as a type of education similar to general education, making no other reference to technology. However, the 2002 Education Rules (last amended in 2016) include a dedicated section on distance education.
In February 2019, the Information Technology Bill was proposed in the house of representatives, with the aim to develop, promote and regulate information technology currently covered by the 2008 Electronic Transaction Act. The 2008 Electronic Transaction Act and 1997 Telecommunications Act make no reference to education institutions or universal service.
Policies, plans and strategies: The 2013-17 ICT in Education Master Plan aims to ensure extensive use of ICT in Nepal’s education system as one of strategies to achieve broader goals in education. The main goals of the Master Plan are to 1) expand equitable access to education, 2) enhance the quality education, 3) reduce the digital divide, and 4) improve the service delivery system in education. The Master Plan includes four major components on ICT in education (also viewed as the four main pillars of ICT in education): ICT infrastructure, human resources, content development (teaching and learning materials), and system enhancement. Various key stakeholders participated in the preparation of the Master Plan, including teachers, educational managers, policy makers and development partners.
The 2015 National ICT Policy also includes a dedicated section on ‘ICTs in education, research and development’, aiming to facilitate and promote the integration of ICTs within the national education system to support pedagogy, learning, research and administration, with a view of improving the quality and access to education at all levels. Similar views are included in the 2019 National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, which supports the integration of science and technology within the education system, viewing it as an “integral part of the teaching-learning process” and the 2019 National Education Policy, which aims to develop ICT infrastructure, platforms and skills.
The 2021-30 Education Sector Plan, 2017/17 – 2022/23 School Sector Development Plan and 2022/23-2031/32 School Education Sector Plan also include dedicated sections on the application of ICT in education, which is considered an important tool in improving classroom delivery, increasing access to learning materials, and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of educational governance and management.
The 2019 Digital Nepal Framework aims to guide Nepal on its journey towards becoming a digital state, including education as one of the eight key sectors targeted in the framework. Digital Nepal initiatives in education aim to use digital technologies to support teaching, enrich learning experiences, and improve educational outcomes.
Finally, one of the objectives of the 2019 Nepal National Framework for SDG 4 developed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) is to strengthen ICT application, scientific orientation, innovation and knowledge creation to foster the development of a knowledge-based economy.
Digital competency frameworks: Nepal has developed and endorsed the national ICT competency standards for teachers in 2016, which provides the direction for drafting the syllabi for both the Basic and Proficient levels. One of the strategies of the 2017/17 – 2022/23 School Sector Development Plan is to develop professional development packages and qualifications for teachers, including the development and implementation of a National Teacher Competency Framework and National Framework for Teacher Preparation. The National Center for Educational Development (NCED) has developed Teacher Competency Standards with ICT included as a key domain. Moreover, ICT is included in the 2016 Teacher Development Framework.
In 2019, a special training workshop on Facilitating Student-Centred Learning through ICT allowed participants to explore ICT tools and resources that Nepali teachers can use to enhance students’ learning experiences. This was followed by a national module development workshop which led to Basic and Proficient-level draft modules.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: According to the 2021 Nepal Education Sector Analysis, the COVID-19 pandemic was viewed as an opportunity for the MoEST to redesign the organization and delivery of education through increasing inter-governmental coordination and collaboration (provincial clusters), enhancing national capacity to deliver blended learning models, and exploring new and innovative ways of teaching and learning through the effective use of ICTs. The MoEST provided specific recommendations for a post-pandemic education system, including improving education sector resilience (with a focus on learning continuity), closing the implementation gap between existing policies and initiatives, and completing the update of the national curriculum framework to reflect peacebuilding and disaster risk reduction.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
The 2013-17 ICT in Education Master Plan considers ICT infrastructure development one of the most important and fundamental requirements to promote ICT in education. ICT infrastructure is one of the basic pillars of ICT in education in the Master Plan and includes ICT equipment, internet connectivity, multimedia classrooms, virtual data centre and educational resource sharing platform.
Electricity: One of the guiding principles of the 2013-17 ICT in Education Master Plan is to reduce the digital gap by providing focused support to disadvantaged schools in remote areas. Rural schools in areas with no stable electricity supply and no basic ICT equipment aim to be equipped with televisions and DVD players with power backup to operate them, with such schools able to opt for solar panel for power supply. The 2019 National Education Policy similarly aims to provide equitable access to the use of ICT to narrow the gap between the urban and rural areas in the use of science, technology and ICT.
Computers and devices: The MoEST has implemented various projects to increase schools’ access to devices, including the one Laptop per Child (OLPC) pilot project (launched in 2008), the Lab Model (computer sharing mechanism) project, the provision of computer labs with internet connectivity to selected schools, and grant schemes for the provision of computers and printers. The Open Learning Exchange Nepal also distributed over 5,000 laptops to more than 100 schools.
The 2019 Digital Nepal Framework supports initiatives such as the Smart Classrooms and Rent-a-Laptop Program. Smart Classrooms aims to integrate technology in classrooms by providing laptops, mobile phones, and tablets for students, along with sufficient charging points and Wi-Fi connectivity. Moreover, schools aim to be provided with projectors, audio-visual equipment, video recorders, screens, and digital whiteboards. The digital framework also supports launching a Rent-a-Laptop program to digitally empower students, with the government of Nepal providing basic laptops to students from underprivileged backgrounds at a marginal cost. The program could target underprivileged students at senior secondary and tertiary levels.
According to the 2013-17 ICT in Education Master Plan, the MoEST similarly aims to issue specifications for ICT laboratories and computers in schools, with students having access to ICT laboratories and teachers to computers. The 2015 National ICT Policy also supports the promotion of affordable acquisition of computers and other ICT products to students and educational institutions. The 2017/17 – 2022/23 School Sector Development Plan establishes minimum conditions to be fulfilled for improving the use of ICT in schools, including the establishment of for science and ICT labs. Within a 7-year target, the MoEST aims to equip 1,000 model schools with ICT enabled interactive learning and computer literacy labs, establish at least one model school with ICT facilities in every constituency, and provide schools with equipment grants for ICT.
Internet connectivity: The government of Nepal aims to make internet connectivity available in all schools, resource centers, and training centers, with a dedicated section on “connectivity” in the country’s 2013-17 ICT in Education Master Plan. One of the Master Plan’s objectives is to expand internet access to schools and other educational institutions, with strategies including the 1) collaboration and coordination between government, internet service providers and local communities, 2) collaboration with Nepal Telecom Authority for the expansion of internet connectivity to schools and other educational institutes, and 3) provision of focused support to disadvantaged schools in remote areas. The 2019 Digital Nepal Framework similarly aims to ensure high-speed internet connectivity in all educational institutions in the country and connect educational institutions to public wi-fi hotspots. To reduce the urban-rural digital divide and improve infrastructure, the government additionally plans on setting up a Rural Telecommunication Fund to provide high-speed internet services to community schools, using wireless and satellite technologies to connect educational institutions in hard-to-reach areas, and deploying high-density networks at urban schools to support the uninterrupted running of devices and ICT tools. Access to internet connectivity is also mentioned in the 2019 National Education Policy, which states that high speed internet service will be gradually expanded by developing ICT infrastructure in schools and educational institutions. The 2015 National ICT Policy similarly supports the adoption of internet access within both public and private educational institutions at all levels of the education system, while the 2017/17 – 2022/23 School Sector Development Plan aims to equip schools with ICT packages including internet connections. Finally, the 2022/23-2031/32 School Education Sector Plan supports the extension of internet connectivity to all schools.
Other initiatives include Picosoft (under the OpenIDEO platform), which is a rural internet service provider in Nepal that offers high-speed internet services to schools in rural areas where cable and ADSL internet are not available. The Open Learning Exchange Nepal was also established in 2007 to integrate technology in classrooms, with key programs including technology infrastructure and helping install school networks consisting of servers and Wi-Fi, and providing lowpower, low-cost, durable equipment.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The 2002 Education Rules (last amended in 2016) include provisions related to distance education and formulates the Distance Education Committee. Distance education may be provided in school education, teacher training, or other programs relating to open education. Any social organization may conduct distance education if their application is approved by the Distance Education Centre under the Centre for Education and Human Resources.
The 2013-17 ICT in Education Master Plan aims to provide alternative modes of schooling through the use of ICT, which includes open and distance learning. The Master Plan also supports the introduction of interactive classes, online modules, and digital teaching-learning materials. One of the Master Plan’s objectives is to expand the accessibility to learning resources through an educational resource sharing platform and the development of interactive digital contents through the use of computers, multimedia, radio, and television. Activities to achieve this goal include the development of interactive teaching and learning materials, digital training materials, digital content for non-formal, distance and open education, disability-friendly materials, and the promotion of free and open source materials. The 2015 National ICT Policy similarly supports the development and deployment of electronic-based distance education to complement and supplement regular, classroom-based education and training (referred to as E-Learning and E-Education). The provision of an E-Learning Portal is also referenced in the 2021-30 Education Sector Plan and 2017/17 – 2022/23 School Sector Development Plan. Moreover, according to the 2019 National Education Policy, the Curriculum Development Centre and Teacher Training Institute will develop e-libraries, virtual labs, virtual classrooms, online examinations, e-portfolio, lesson plans with ICT, subject-specific teaching methods podcasts, webinars, educast, makerspace, and teaching–learning apps. The updating of the national curriculum framework (revised in 2019) will be completed by making all learning materials accessible online, at schools, and in classrooms (2021 Nepal Education Sector Analysis).
According to the 2019 Digital Nepal Framework, the government additionally plans on leveraging Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to deliver distance learning, as well as establish an Open Learning Platform delivered through websites and mobile-based devices by collaborating with educational institutions to deliver educational content based on the national curriculum for school-going and out-of-school youth. This will allow students to attend pre-loaded video classes, submit assignments, and check homework according to their own pace and teachers to upload assignments, check homework, and provide additional help to weaker students.
During the COVID-19 school closures in 2020, the government of Nepal aimed to continue the education of all students at primary and secondary level through the COVID-19 Education Cluster Contingency Plan, Alternative Learning Facilitation Guidelines, and Emergency Action Plan for School Education. Distance learning methods included the government’s online learning portal (for students who have internet access), TV and radio programs (for students who do not have internet access, but have access to a TV and/or radio), and the distribution of printed learning packs (for students who do not have access to either of the aforementioned media). Students with additional needs (defined as students with physical or mental disabilities or children from marginalized or poorer communities), were provided with tailored packages.
In 2019, the National Curriculum Development and Evaluation Council approved a new National Curriculum Framework that highlights the promotion of ICT, soft skills and job skills (2021 Nepal Education Sector Analysis). The 2019 Digital Nepal Framework supports compulsory ICT education as part of the national curriculum in all schools and colleges and ICT literacy programs for rural communities. The 2013-17 ICT in Education Master Plan aims for all secondary school students to acquire basic computer skills as a core soft or generic skill, while the 2017/17 – 2022/23 School Sector Development Plan aims to provide all students with ICT skills. The 2022/23-2031/32 School Education Sector Plan further supports the integration of the use of basic ICT skills in different subjects so that all school students have basic skills in ICT. Similarly, the 2015 National ICT Policy supports the integration of computer skills into the teaching and learning process at primary and secondary level through the development of a comprehensive National ICT curriculum and qualifications system which covers a set of market-driven competencies. The Nepal National Planning Commission has identified the improvement of science and technology competency in education as one of at least nine target areas for graduating the country from the category of low and middle-income to the status of developing by 2022.
The promotion and development of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education is also supported in several government documents. The 2019 National Education Policy supports the development and expansion of STEM education as an integral part of the overall education system through appropriate policies, investments, human resources development, curriculum integration and modernization of teaching approach. Specific strategies include developing a STEM-based curriculum, incorporating STEM as subjects and topics, revising the curriculum by giving appropriate space to STEM subjects, increasing the ratio of STEM subjects in the curriculum to 50% depending upon the grade and standard, and integrating the STEM approach in different subjects of school education (including language, literature arts, and history). The 2019 National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy similarly highlights the incorporation of science and technology education from the primary level, while the 2019 Nepal National SDG 4 Framework aims to integrate technology development and innovation, including STEAM education at all levels.
Gender is not specifically mentioned in these policies in relation to STEM, but referred to in the 2013-17 ICT in Education Master Plan (which aims to promote educational access and equity for all regardless of gender) and the 2015 National ICT Policy, which supports the implementation of specific measures to counter gender imbalances affecting women's participation and their ability to benefit from the information society at all levels. The policy aims to address gender-based inequalities and promote gender-sensitive measures to encourage the active participation of women in national and community-based ICT initiatives, with a dedicated section on ICTs for Youth, Women and Girls. Similarly, the 2019 Digital Nepal Framework aims to enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular ICT, to promote the empowerment of women, but there is no specific mention of increasing girls and women participation in STEM subjects.
ICT is included as a key domain in Nepal’s Teacher Competency Standards. For ICT Standards, teachers must demonstrate basic knowledge of ICT, manage an ICT-enabled learning environment in school, and develop digital materials. For ICT Competency, teachers must be able to use ICT for learning assessment and feedback, mutual communication and collaboration among learners, and be acquainted with relevant education acts and ICT provisions. The framework includes basic, proficient, and distinguished performance indicators. ICT components have also been included in the 2016 Teacher Development Framework, such as the use of ICT in professional development, focus on ICT-based materials, inclusion and enhancement of ICT in teacher training, wide extension of basic teacher training in ICT, and the provision of online training.
The 2013-17 ICT in Education Master Plan considers human resources as a key pillar for the integration of ICT in education. The overall objective of the human resource component is to enhance the ICT capacity of human resources in the education sector, which includes ICT teachers, ICT trainers in teacher training centers and resource centers, human resource for digital content development, and human resource for ICT in education Programme Management at Central Level. Objective 4 aims to prepare teachers for ICT-based education, with strategies including the development of a National ICT Skills Standard, integration of ICT skills in pre-service and in-service teacher training curricula in each level, motivation and certification of ICT skilled teachers, encouragement of ICT-skilled teachers to mentor other teachers, integration of ICT skills in the performance and evaluation of teachers, the promotion of continuous and lifelong learning through open and distance education, and the integration of ICT skills in teacher preparation courses. Moreover, according to Objective 6, the MoEST aims on enhancing the ICT competencies of human resources working in the education sector, with strategies including the integration of ICT skills on the regular training curricula, performance evaluation, and professional development of teachers. Activities towards these goals include the development of ICT Skill Standards for teachers and conducting teacher training for ICT-enabled teaching-learning environments. The Master Plan additionally aims for all teachers to have basic ICT skills through separate courses or integrating ICT in other subject curricula, with ICT curricula for teachers developed both for teacher preparation and teacher development programs.
The 2019 National Education Policy additionally aims for all teachers to be made capable of employing ICT in their teaching and learning process through the provision of “mentor teachers” to all new teachers. The policy envisions ICT being used as the medium of teaching and learning from the preliminary education level, with digital technology (including virtual teachers, principals, trainers, monitors, inspectors, and supervisors) to be developed at federal and provincial levels to develop effective teaching, training, monitoring, evaluation, and supervision approaches. The development of teacher ICT skills is also supported by the 2015 National ICT Policy and 2019 National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy. Similarly, the 2017/17 – 2022/23 School Sector Development Plan aims to train teachers in the use of ICT in teaching and learning, develop online and offline training courses and materials (focusing on science, math, and English), and prepare ICT teaching and learning materials. The plan additionally supports the capacity building of teachers to use ICT-based curriculum materials and the revision of teacher professional development packages that include ICT. The 2022/23-2031/32 School Education Sector Plan further supports developing teacher capacity in ICT, aiming to incorporate ICT in teacher development and preparation courses and ensuring that newly appointed teachers have basic digital skills by making ICT skills mandatory for teacher selection. The 2019 Digital Nepal Framework supports the digital skills training of public servants as essential to the success of the Digital Nepal program. According to the 2021 Nepal Education Sector Analysis, the Centre for Education and Human Resource Development has developed in-service teacher training packages that include subject-matter knowledge and ICT, with teachers receiving a 30-day training at least once every 5 years. The National Centre for Educational Development (NCED) has been providing training to teachers through National Radio and FM.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 2022 Data Act was promulgated with an aim to consolidate laws relating to data collection as well as to make the task of production, processing, storage, publication, and distribution of data more reliable and systematic. Educational institutions are included as part of the definitions of ‘public bodies’ under which the Act applies.
The 2013-17 ICT in Education Master Plan supports the development of national policies on data security and cyber ethics, with one of its objectives being to develop and enhance policy and regulatory provisions for effective and efficient use of ICTs in education.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The 2015 National ICT Policy aims to explore better ways to improve cyber security education at all levels so that people are better equipped to use ICTs safely. The 2019 National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy also makes reference to good governance and the delivery of cyber security, without specifying schools.
The 2019 Information and Technology Bill prohibits cyberbullying, with no acts allowed that continuously distress, tease, and insult, discourage, humiliate or rebuke others using the electronic medium. Such provisions are also included in Criminal Code of Nepal, Part 2, Chapter 10 Discrimination and other humiliating behavior, and Part 3 Chapter 2 Act of Defamation.
The 2021 National Cybersecurity Policy aims to govern and address cybersecurity issues. Its strategies include framing the laws and guidelines for a secured and resilient cyberspace, developing institutional and organizational structures based on international guidelines, building infrastructure and technology to strengthen cybersecurity, developing skilled human resources in the cybersecurity sector, building a safe online space, and collaborating with international organizations, public entities, and the private sector for a secure cyberspace.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) is generally responsible for the development of science and technology at the federal level, while the Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment is responsible for ICT development at the provincial level. The MoEST guides on policy matters and coordinates among existing bodies to expand at federal, provincial, and local levels.
The Centre for Education and Human Resource Development / Department of Education has been established under the MoEST to effectively implement and monitor the policies, plans and programs run by the MoEST in view of expanding the education sector in Nepal. Under the Department, there is a Division of Educational Technology and Non-Formal Education which is responsible for alternative and open education, distance learning, virtual learning, technology infrastructure in schools (including internet access), and the development and distribution of digital materials. There are five branches under this division, which include the Educational Technology Branch. The Educational Technology Branch carries out the work related to teaching of computer studies at the school level, develops the equipment and infrastructure required for the use of ICT in schools, prepares the ICT master plan for school education, and prepares capacity building models for teachers in using ICT.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology formulates the general policies, laws, norms and regulations relating to ICT such as the 2015 National ICT Policy (which includes education provisions) and supports schools in ICT connectivity (including internet access and smart classrooms). The Department of Information Technology under the Ministry is responsible for assisting in the development of human resources in ICT, expanding the use of ICT in Nepal, reducing the digital divide to ensure access to ICT, and consulting the government on the use of ICT.
The Nepal Telecommunication Authority (NTA) is responsible for developing ICT infrastructure in schools (including internet connectivity), while the National Center for Educational Development (NCED) is responsible for ICT educational resources and ICT platforms.
A Steering Committee and Coordination Committee was established under the 2013-17 ICT in Education Master Plan for inter-sectoral and inter-agency coordination and cooperation when implementing the ICT Master Plan. The ICT in Education National Steering Committee is responsible for policy decisions, while the ICT in Education Coordination Committee is responsible for overall planning and coordination of the Master Plan at the central level.
At the school level, the School Management Committee is responsible for the planning and implementation of ICT, as stated in the 2013-17 ICT in Education Master Plan. The Department of Education has banned the use of mobile phones in classrooms up to Plus Two level as part of a circular.