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Civic Education for the Young Generation

Organized by Nepal Foundation of Advanced Studies (NEFAS)

22 November 2009

Khimti, Ramechhap

Khimti a river valley carved out by the Tamakoshi River in Ramechhap District was the next venue for the seminar on civic education that followed the function in Jiri, Dolakha. The seminar is one in a series being organized by Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies in different parts of the country with the objective of raising awareness among teachers and schools to adopt them as part of their school curriculum. Hence, the choice of the venue for the seminar is decided by the number of higher secondary schools which have adopted the subject for teaching or in the process of doing so. Here, it happened to be the scenic spot on the bank of the cool, blue and ferocious Tamakoshi. The NEFAS project has been receiving support from Friedrich Ebert Stiftung of Germany.

The seminar consisted of a presentation session followed by comments from participants. Pawan Raj Poudel, headmaster of Tamakoshi Higher Secondary School, chaired the function while Prof. Ram Kumar Dahal and Shivaraj Dahal made their respective presentations on democracy and civic education. Prof. Dahal gave a lecture that consisted of excerpt from the 'Handbook on Democracy' supplied by FES while Shivaraj Dahal's paper was on 'Civic Education for the Young Generation'. The elder Dahal described ways to strengthen a democracy and the pitfalls that political leaders and other public figures and institutions must avoid, especially while writing a constitution during a transition period such as the present one. Some of the points he explained had to do with human rights, rule of law, politics and public life of politicians and even pertinent governance issues like transparency and accountability and even local governance. The younger Dahal, meanwhile, talks in his paper about youths going astray thanks to the politicians who are either leading them for their own narrow interests were forming policies that push them out of the country in search of jobs abroad. His paper calls on the younger generation to act more responsibly with regard to taking over the reins of control over their own destiny. The actual presentation of Shivaraj Dahal's paper was, however, done by Jit Bahadur Chauhan as the former had developed a sore throat in the course of his travels.

Earlier, NEFAS Executive Director Prof. Ananda Srestha welcomed the participants calling on them to actively contribute by commenting on the paper written by Shivaraj Dahal so that it can be included in the next edition of the book called 'Samakalin Samaj' that contains Dahal's paper.

Commentators from the floor in Khimti appeared to be more concerned about the need for the government to be more involved in social welfare, particularly health and education. It was clear that the deteriorating education and health environment in public and government facilities was taking its toll in the Nepalese hinterlands. The issue of social welfare, although occasionally comes up in NEFAS seminars on civic education, a significant number of participants raised the issue during the Khimti event. They also talked of the deteriorating economic situation brought on by closure of indigenous cottage industries and businesses because of globalization. Poverty was also an issue of the participants from this lush river valley.

During his concluding remarks Headmaster Poudel said that NEFAS had been doing a commendable job by raising awareness about civic education teaching. He said that economic activities must be boosted so that hunger, the main enemy of people, will be no more.

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