Nepal became a republic in 2008. The country has approximately 28 million inhabitants. A large number of languages is spoken, but the official language is Nepalese.
The country has its own calendar which is approximately 57 years ahead of the western calendar. The Nepalese calendar is abbreviated B.S.
The Ministry of Education bears general responsibility for primary, secondary and higher education. Technical and senior secondary vocational education is coordinated by the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT).
Nepalese Education System
The Nepalese education system was traditionally oriented towards the Indian system and was known as the three-tier sixteen-year education system:
10 years of primary and secondary education, followed by 4 years of college-level studies and 2 years of master’s education.
From the 1950s onwards, the disadvantages of this system started to become increasingly apparent, and a series of reforms were initiated in an effort to create a more competitive education system.
Lower-level of Education
The current education system, which is still in a transitional phase, is structured as follows:
- pre-school education; kindergarten (under-5 age group);
- school education: primary and secondary education (duration: 12 years, children aged 5-17);
- higher education: (children aged 18 and up).
The language of instruction in primary and secondary education is Nepalese. Higher education is offered in both English and Nepalese.
The school year runs from April to March. The school year for the final 2 years of secondary education (higher secondary) starts in June/July. The working week runs from Sunday through Friday.
All primary education and the first part of secondary education (lower secondary, grades 1-8) is compulsory.
Primary and Secondary Education
Nepalese primary and secondary education is based on the 10+2 system, whereby pupils take a total of 12 years of primary and secondary education.
The grades are divided into 4 phases:
- primary level (grades 1-5);
- lower secondary (grades 6-8);
- secondary (grades 9-10), concludes with the Secondary Education Examination (SEE);
- higher secondary (grades 11-12).
Secondary Education Examinations are administered to pupils in grades 8 and 10. The Office of the Controller of Examinations (OCE) is responsible for the SLC examinations (grade 10). After obtaining the SLC, pupils may continue to higher secondary education (grades 11 and 12).
University education previously included grades 11 and 12 (proficiency certificate level offered at Tribhuvan University). These grades currently make up part of secondary education and fall under the responsibility of the Higher Secondary Education Board (NEB).
Nepal Education Board
The NEB was established in 1989 under the Higher Secondary Education Act and is responsible for higher secondary examinations (grades 11 and 12). Admission to higher secondary is partly subject to the results of the entrance exam. Each school organises its own exam in accordance with NEB guidelines.
Higher Secondary Education Board
Higher secondary pupils take 5 subjects a year and generally continue to take the same 3 elective subjects for a 2-year period and 1 additional elective subject for 1 year. The subjects English and Nepalese are compulsory.
Pupils can choose from a list of approximately 40 elective subjects, divided over 4 specialisations:
- management (also known under the name commerce);
After SEE Education
In order to be admitted to the science specialisation, pupils must generally have obtained good results (first division) on the SLC. This specialisation offers pupils a choice between the general science, computer science or agricultural science clusters.
In order to be admitted to the other specialisations, pupils must generally have obtained second division qualifications for the SLC. All specialisations lead to the NEB Certificate. However, in general, only the NEB Migration Certificate is submitted.
In terms of level, the NEB (Migration) Certificate (humanities/science) is comparable to a HAVO diploma.
In terms of level, the NEB (Migration) Certificate (management/education) is comparable to a HAVO diploma with vocational subjects.
Vocationally-oriented Secondary Education
Vocationally-oriented secondary education is coordinated by the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT). After having completed grade 8 (lower secondary), pupils can continue to CTEVT programmes leading to the Technical School Leaving Certificate (TSLC).
Pupils to have obtained the SLC after grade 10 may continue to various programmes leading to a diploma or other qualification such as the I.SC.AG or Proficiency Certificate.
In terms of level, the CTEVT Proficiency Certificate is comparable to an MBO diploma at qualification level 2 or 3, depending on the specialisation.
Admission to Higher Education
The NEB (Migration) Certificate offers access to bachelor’s programmes. Prospective students seeking to take a bachelor’s programme may also complete a preparatory programme leading to the Proficiency Certificate at Tribhuvan University immediately after obtaining their Secondary Education Examination.
Although this option is currently still available, the Proficiency Certificate is being gradually phased out. Higher education In Nepal, higher education is offered at universities, of which Tribhuvan University is the oldest. The universities offer both professionally-oriented and academic education.
Education is provided by the universities constituent and affiliated campuses. Constituent campuses are a part of the university organisation and receive government grants.
Affiliated campuses include institutions categorised as community campuses or private campuses. Community campuses, on the other hand, are private nonprofit institutions that receive a limited amount of government funding. Private campuses are commercial institutions.
The campuses are located throughout Nepal, although a large number are based in Kathmandu. Most campuses offer programmes in a small number of disciplines.
University and Higher Professional Education
Bachelor’s programmes generally have a duration of 3 to 4 years. The length of a study programme may vary depending on the institution. For example, bachelor’s programmes in law are offered in the form of both 4 and 5-year programmes.
In terms of level, a 3-year Bachelor is comparable to 3 years of higher professional education (HBO).
In terms of level, a 4-year Bachelor is comparable to an HBO bachelor’s degree or 2 years of university education (WO), depending on the type of study.
A small number of programmes have a longer standard duration. The medicine programme (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery – MBBS) has a duration of 5½ or 5 years, depending on the institution. The veterinary science programme (Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Science) – B.V.Sc. & A.H.) generally has a duration of 5 years.
In terms of level, the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery is comparable to a WO bachelor’s degree.
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, students may transfer to the master’s degree programme or postgraduate diploma programme.
Master’s programmes generally have a duration of 1 to 2 years and lead to the degree of Master or MPhil Master’s programmes are generally coursework programmes, which can include a thesis. Postgraduate level education is not offered by all campuses.
PhD programmes are offered by a small number of campuses and have a duration of 3 to 5 years. An MPhil will generally offer access to PhD programmes.
The secondary education system applies various points systems. As regards the SLC, the highest number of attainable points (full marks) is 100, with 32 points set as the lowest passing mark (pass marks).
As regards the NEB Migration Certificate, the maximum number of points (full mark) will vary depending on the subject. The maximum number of points for the subjects English and Nepalese is 100 (full mark).
In the case of other subjects, a full mark may only require 75, 50 or even 25 points. The total number of points is then used to calculate a percentage expressing the final assessment (the relevant division).
The higher education system applies various – point and letter-based – systems. The subject overviews always specify the full marks and lowest passing marks (pass marks).
Quality Assurance and Accreditation
In 2007, Nepal initiated efforts to establish a higher education quality and accreditation system (‘Second Higher Education Project’, SHEP, 2007-2014).
The Universities Grants Commission (UGC) falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and is charged with the funding and monitoring of higher education institutions.
The UGC established the Quality Assurance and Accreditation Council (QAAC) as part of an effort to introduce a national QAA system for higher education. The newly established QAA Division was charged with practical implementation.
The Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT) was established in 1989. The Accreditation Division ensures the quality of private technical institutions by means of institutional and programme accreditation.
The CTEVT website features an overview of all accredited institutions and secondary vocational programmes.
Composition of File
The certificate issued upon completion of secondary education is the NEB Migration Certificate. This certificate is accompanied by an Academic Transcript featuring the results achieved during grades 11 and 12.
In order to gain a complete overview of the results obtained during secondary education, we recommend requiring the submission of the examination results for grade 10 (SLC Examination Mark Sheet).
Both the NEB Migration Certificate and corresponding grade list are issued by the Higher Secondary Education Board (NEB). The NEB also issues the NEB Provisional Certificate.
This document is often issued along with the other 2 certificates. Schools also issue Character Certificates. This document is not the final certificate.
In addition to the final certificate stating the bachelor’s or master’s degree, universities also issue an Academic Transcript. In many cases, the relevant campus will also issue a Character Certificate. This document is not the final certificate.
List of Higher Education Institutions
- Tribhuvan University (since 1959);
- Nepal Sanskrit University (since 1986, but known as Mahendra Sanskrit University until the recent name change)
- Kathmandu University (since 1991);
- Purbanchal University (since 1994);
- Pokhara University (since 1997);
- Lumbini Buddhist University (since 2005);
- Mid Western University (since 2010);
- Far Western University (since 2010);
- Agriculture and Forestry University (since 2010).
The following institutions fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and Population:
- B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (since 1993);
- National Academy of Medical Sciences (2002);
- Patan Academy of Health Sciences (2009).
Education System in Nepal Useful links
- Website of the Ministry of Education.
- Website of the National Education Board (NEB).
- Website of the Office of the Controller of Examination
- featuring information on the SLC.
Website of the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT), featuring information on accredited institutions and accredited senior secondary vocational programmes.