Seminar Report on Civic Education on
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
8-9 November 2012
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office has organised two day
seminar on civic education and statebuilding at Kamalakhoch
of Sindhuli District on 8-9 November, 2012. The programme was
held at Kamala HS School at Hatapate. 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.
There were over 140 participants of which half of them were
female. The whole idea of this programme was to educate people
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 statebuilding
by winning people's confidence on it which is at its lowest
ebb at the moment. The seminar was attended by Keshav Acharya,
CDO of Sindhuli District, LDO Dhruba Khadka, and DSP Kamal Shrestha
from Armed Police Force and other civil servants based in the
region also attended the two days programme.
Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal Office welcomed participants
and highlighted objectives of the seminar. During his inaugural
speech Dahal underlined the importance of civic education. He
said that the lack of civic education have resulted in democratic
deficit in political culture. He further said that citizens
are members of the state and by being the members of the state
- they enjoy certain rights from it and they, too, have duties
towards it. This kind of social contract between the state and
its citizens need to be upheld for the political stability.
But it appears that this feeling seems to be missing in our
context both at the level of political classes and at the citizenry
argued Dahal. The unaccountable politics is the product of this
phenomenon pointed out Dahal. He also said that the modern state
should also create an environment for the people so that they
can enjoy full freedom (freedom from fear and freedom from want).
He also said that Nepal will not become a failed state due to
two of its strong neighbor as unstable Nepal will pose security
threat to them as well. He also pointed out that Nepal is among
one of the oldest state in the world with its huge cultural
legacy and we should be able to use all these for statebuilding
purposes. At this backdrop, the biggest challenge that lies
ahead of us is how do we instill the culture of civic education
in our political system said Dahal.
Speaking in programme, CDO of the district Mr Acharya in order
to know the nature of the state one has to look at its civil
service and how does it respond to the need of the people. We
need to focus on developing positive thinking in our mind. There
is no clinical mechanism to change human behaviour - its only
through civic education and programmes like this can contribute
a lot in statebuilding. He also said that we need to strike
a right a right balance between rights and duties then only
can we have society that can upheld the democratic political
culture in society.
Three papers were presented in both the places wherein Dev
Raj Dahal presented on Challenges of State-building in Nepal,
Constitutional Expert - Kashi Raj Dahal spoke about legal and
constitutional issues. He also 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.
Bal Krishna Pokhrel (Language Specialist), asked about
the overall objectives of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.
Ujjawal Baral, Nepal Congress, was of the view that
we need to adopt mixed system and there is clash of power between
President and Prime Minister. Six Constitution in Sixty year
precisely is the result of as who should exercise executive
power of the state. The political system of Nepal could not
give birth to right leaders.
Ram Adhikari, argued that we should get rid of proportional
representation system from our electoral mechanism as it is
only promoting clientalism across political parties. There has
to be intensive discussion as who should be brought into the
politics through such an electoral system.
Hem Bahadur Bhujel said that programme like this are
good as it has tried to bring people from different background
into a common platform. With regard to the federalism - he said
Gobinda P. Pahadi said that we should not have ethnic-based
federalism and we should not have more than 5-7 federal states
based on geography, population and alike.
Kesha Baral Sir (Chair) asked why there are disagreements
in deciding number of state federal states? what are the merits
and demerits of federalism ? He questions whether Nepal lacks
Tika Prasad Dahal asked democracy respects why decisions
on issues like federalism secularism, republicanism were taken
Basanta Pokhrel asked how can we bridge the gap between
the rich and the poor - the two dominant classes or our society.
What we have failed to work this end ?
VDC Secretary asked to how can we decide issues at the local
level so that no controversy arises. He also said that the CA
members should return the salary for the entire period as they
have failed to write constitution. We also have to mention educational
qualification of our leaders. We are we holding CA election
again if there is no guarantee that constitution will be written
through it. Why President is still in the position since the
CA has already gone and he was elected by the CA. Responding
to this Kashi Raj Dahal said that its only the CA member who
have lost their legitimacy not the CA as such.
Sanjeev Neupane asked whether the President carried
the right to change the government or not ?
Keshav Baral citing the current decade that if this
government goes, president will also go - under such a state
of affairs who should govern - civil society or political parties?
Speaking from the Chair Keshav Baral said that the programme
is grand success and it has given positive message in a society
and we all came to know the importance of civic education. We
feel that every should know about this and appreciate our history,
culture, leaders, and forefathers. If we forget all these, we
will lose our identity argued Baral.
He also agreed to include the component of civic education in
the school curriculum in the days to come as civic education
produces civic citizens. In the past we have attacked on that
teacher who used to teach Sanskrit. This was a historical blunder
committed by some of our political parties.
The programme in Kamalakhoch went very well. Participants got
to know about important issues such as state, state building,
inclusive democracy, federalism, forms of government, electoral
process and many more. The conclusion of this seminar is that
transformation requires at the multiple levels and a sustainable
transformation can take place when it is backed up by proper
mechanism. They also agreed to include components of civic education
in school curriculum that will generate some sense of civic
responsibility with younger generation of society and will help
to strike a balance between rights and responsibilities. Freedom
within the framework of rule of law can contribute toward political
stability, enhance constitutional behavior and promote democratic
political culture. To achieve these objectives, the broader
focus should lay on education, that too, civic education.