Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Policy

First Advisor

Amy E. Smith

Second Advisor

Francine Menashy

Third Advisor

Michael Johnson


This study examines the impact of the School Sector Reform Plan (SSRP), a national education reform in Nepal, on primary and secondary education. The study uses mixed-methods to analyze indicators of educational outcomes and identify the underlying environmental, organizational, and individual factors that affect reform implementation.

The first phase of the study is a quantitative analysis of annual, district-level data on 75 districts for 10 years, from 2006 to 2016 using regression models to predict dropout and promotion rates. The second phase of the study is a qualitative analysis of the perceived effectiveness of SSRP using in-depth interviews with 33 stakeholders from local-, district-, and national-level education offices and schools in Kathmandu district. The interviews examined how teachers, school principals, and district education officers understood education reform and how this sense-making combined with the cooperation and resource sharing between implementing organizations affected reform outcomes.

Several key findings emerge from the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. First, the study shows that policy implementation is a complex undertaking and is affected by a multitude of environmental, organizational, and individual factors. Second, results show that sense-making can vary at different levels of implementation and for different actors involved in implementation. In line with prior research, individuals make sense of policies based on their roles and their understanding and beliefs about the policy, its environment, and their own surroundings (Spillane, 2002; Coburn & Stein, 2006). Third, the study finds that teacher training during SSRP had limited effects on student dropout and promotion despite significant time and finances allotted to the professional development of primary and secondary school teachers. This finding highlights the significance of considering stakeholders’ needs, demands and the availability of resources to support policy implementation. Fourth, the study provides evidence of several socioeconomic barriers to successful education policy implementation. This finding highlights the need to integrate education policy with other socioeconomic policies that have a significant effect on educational outcomes.