Civic Education for the Young Generation
Organized by Nepal Foundation of Advanced
21 Nov 2009, Jiri, Dolakha
Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies organized
a seminar on Civic Education for the Young Generation in Jiri
on 21 November, 2009. This was the first ever function held in
this temperate hamlet, east of Kathmandu, by NEFAS. There are
a number of schools including higher secondary ones in the small
town where civic education is taught. Teachers, local political
leaders and other professionals were present at the seminar. Tek
Bahadur Jirel, the local headmaster, presided over the single-session
seminar. The floor was open for comments and suggestions as soon
as the presenters delivered their lectures.
Shivaraj Dahal presented the paper on civic
education where he called upon the participants to spread awareness
about the plight that Nepalese youths were being forced to go
through not just by the society at large but also by the political
leadership. The youth must be more active in public life to
transform their status into one of leadership, Dahal said.
The next presentation was made by Prof. Ram
Kumar Dahal on ways to strengthen democracy in the country.
The lecture was based on the 'Handbook on Democracy' provided
by Frederic Ebert Stigtung of Germany. The NEFAS programme on
civic education is supported by FES. Prof. Dahal laid down the
foundations on which democracy could be institutionalized, viz.-
strengthening human rights, rule of law, strong political parties,
independent judiciary, autonomous local governance and the like.
The welcome address and introduction of the
theme of the seminar was delivered by Prof. Ananda Srestha,
executive director of NEFAS. In it he said that NEFAS was an
academic organization set up in 1990 and that the outcome of
the discussions the organization has been holding in different
parts of the country are published as books. "Those books
are being taught at various levels of schools and universities,"
The direction that the country should be taking
at this point of political transition is confusing. The youth
must take the mantle to lead the nation, he said and added that
decision-making must not be left only to the politicians. The
youth too need to be involved, Prof. Srestha said.
During the floor discussion, several of the
participants wanted the seminar to continue for several days
as the topic was too contemporary to be pushed aside. This is
a demand of not just the participants of the Jiri seminar but
almost every other venue in other parts of the country where
NEFAS has held the civic education discussion. Others demanded
a larger share of youth participants in seminars organized about
the youth. But obviously there were more sober voices wanting
to know more about burning issues like civil supremacy, a topic
that has kicked up a lot of dust in the course of constitution
drafting in the country. "The political parties are muddling
up the issue of civil supremacy and the issue of civic education
should add at least one paragraph to Shivaraj Dahal's paper
to clarify things," said one participant. Others wanted
moral science to be integrated with the topic of civic education
in school curricula.
Several participants talked about better
economic condition to retain the young manpower from going abroad
for menial jobs. They wanted the human resource to be utilized
for the prosperity of the nation. In his concluding remarks
Mr. Jirel said that youth from Africa used to be tied up and
taken to Europe in shiploads to work as slaves. "Africa
was a prosperous land in the past with very productive farmland.
Once the youth were taken away famine spread and even cannibalism
began to be practiced," he said stressing the importance
of the role of youth in nation-building.