Seminar Report on Civic Education on Modern-State
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
Rajapur, Bardiya (16-17 August) and Kohalpur, Banke (18-19
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office has organised two day
seminars on civic education and state-building at Rajapur of
Bardiya district and Kohalpur of Banke district on 16 and 17
and 18 and 19 August, 2011 respectively. The programme was attended
by local political leaders, members of civil society, journalists,
teachers, lecturers, students, civil servants (including security
personnel) and other stake-holders of society actively participated
the two-day seminar in both the places. There were over 90 participants
in Rajapur and more than 100 in Kohalpur with significant number
of women participants. The whole idea of this programme was
to educate people's at the local level on the importance of
civic education and its role in modern state-building. Civic
education basically is a political education and there is a
great deal of urgency to inform people about politics that too,
democratic politics. Only a democratic politics can contribute
towards modern state-building by winning people's confidence
e on it which is at its lowest ebb at the moment. In Rajapur,
the seminar was chaired by Bhumi Nandan Neupane of Amar Sahid
Shree Dashrath Chand Higher Secondary School and in Kohalpur
the programme was chaired by Hari Prasad Rawal of Bageshwari
Higher Secondary School.
Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal Office welcomed all the participants
and highlighted objectives of the seminar. During his inaugural
speech Dahal said underlined the importance of civic education.
He said that the lack of civic education in our society can
result in political anarchy. He further said that citizens are
members of the state and by being the members of the state they
enjoy certain rights from the state and also have duties towards
it. That feeling seems to be lacking in our context both at
the level of political class and at the citizenry level argued
Dahal. The unaccountable politics is the product of this phenomenon
said Dahal. Hence the biggest challenge that lies ahead of us
is how do we introduce the culture of civic education in our
political system, said Narayan Prasad Sigdel of Tribhuvan Higher
Secondary School in Kohalpur. How can we contribute to our society
without effectively despite our different political alienation
with different groups and political parties said Hari Prasad
Rawal at the concluding session. How can we build up common
orientation towards state and society to translate democracy
in a real sense of the term.
Speaking from the Chair Bhumi Nandan Neupane said that we don't
know what type of state we wanted to have as yet and civil society
groups have not initiated debate to this end. Their contribution
towards peace building and state building is meager said Neupane.
Three papers were presented in both the places wherein Dev
Raj Dahal presented on Challenges of State-building in Nepal,
Lal Babu Yadav - Associate Professor of Political Science a
the Tribhuvan University spoke about Constitutional crisis in
the country and highlighted on federalism, electoral system,
and form of government and finally Chandra D Bhatta spoke about
democracy and its elements. He also highlighted why democracy
works in some countries and not in others.
Speaking from the floor Chhabi Bhatta of UML asked whether
federalism is suitable for Nepal or not - if the answer is yes
- what type federalism would best serve our interests.
Shiv Ram Regmi was of the view that we do need federalism and
he blamed that human rights organisations do not speak the truth.
Jaya Raj Ojha inquired whether we can move ahead without written
constitution or not - if the answer is yes - how we strike a
balance between executive, judiciary and legislative. He also
inquired whether NGOs and INGOs should involve in the issues
related to human rights or not. He also inquired how we can
civilise our culture which is getting polluted. The syndicate
system that is rampant in the far western part of the Nepal
is against democratic norms. He further said that our society
is not barbaric. We built our state by respecting all ethnic
groups. If you look out beyond Nepal - the same is not the case.
For example - Europeans built American by eliminating ethnic
groups who were 12 percent of total population said Ojha.
Bhumi Nanda Neupane asked how we can move now. We have 601
CA members (whom we elected) shall we own them or disown them.
Tirtha Raj Shahi opined that not even a single word was uttered
about federalism during the movement of 062/063 and later political
parties carried the agenda of federalism which was, no doubt,
floated by India. He stressed that we need to hold referendum
on the issue of federalism, monarchy and secularism. The increase
in the number of municipality by the UML government is nothing
more than a populist agenda. This was not done to serve people
and facilitiate service delivery but to hijack citizens' right.
Chhetrapal Chaudhary, on the other side, was of the view that
the issue of federalism was raised by Maoists long time ago
when they talked about ethnic empowerment.
Fula Ram Sunar wanted to know the situation of dalits in the
federalism and he also enquired how we can judge democracy -
the right answer, perhaps, is how the government in power behaves
with the parties in opposition.
Bishnu Adhikari asked how we can recognize 'statesman'. If
Nepal remains a secular state - what would happen tomorrow asked
Nav Raj Khanal asked how the agenda of secularism came into
being ? We need to know about it.
Sabitri Pur (Teacher) asked what role women are played during
state-building in other countries. Ravi Raj Sharma inquired
why civic education was removed from our syllabus. Kirpa Ram
Tharu asked how we can change our education system which is
not scientific and vocational. Bishnu Thapa inquired whether
we can select leaders from community or not.
Kapil Neupane asked what is the role of youth in state-building
? Where is the space for them ? There are no opportunities created
for them over the years, as a result, majority of the youth
are forced to leave the country. We need to modernize our agriculture
and make it a driving force whch can alone create opportunity
for the youths.
Babu Ram Adhikari (Teacher) said that we can still play positive
role in a society despite surfacing of so many discontents after
2046 B.S. Democracy should provide space for everyone and we
need to civilise our democracy and actors directly involved
on it (the people at large).
Rekha Sharma inquired how one can manage the governmental educational
institutions which in doldrums. Ram Prasad Chapagai asked how
do you define civic education and modern state, whether it can
really contribute towards state-building or not. What type of
civic education can change our society for the betterment? Whether
601 CA members are aware of about civic education or not ? There
are more than 40 lacs Nepali working abroad can civic education
stop them enquired Sharma.
Gynaeshwor Sharma was of the view that state-organisations
need to be restructured and there is an urgent need for that
without doing this there is no way that we can change our lethargic
system on which the current state stands.
Hari Bhakta Adhikari asked what human right is. How can we
strike a balance between class and democracy? Who should rule,
that is, which class can bring political stability - proletariat
or the bourgeoisie? Who should have ownership over the land
- those who till it or who own it?
Bodh Raj Aryal asked how you differentiate prajatantra from
Loktantra and how we make NGOs and INGOs more transparent which
has not been the case at the moment. Kapil Neupane also asked
how can we create compromise in ideology?.
Yuba Raj Paudel asked what is the different between pluralism
and multiparty system - can they go hand-in-hand or not.
The programmes at the both places received good response. In
fact the importance of civic education and its inclusion in
school/college curriculum is must. Civic education can create
the sense of spiritualism in society and which can alone unite
Nepali state in a single thread. The discontents that are seen
in different domains of politics need timely address by the
political class. Failing to do so will create further fissures
in our society. There is no way that we can have equal society
but what we can do is create equal opportunity for all. That
said democracy should work for all equally.