Seminar Report on Civic Education on Modern-State
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
21-22 November 2012 (Khimti, Ramechhap)
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office has organised a two
day seminar on civic education and statebuilding at Tamakoshi
Janjagriti Higher Secondary School at Khimti on 21-22 November,
2012. 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 114 participants of which 32 were female participants.
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.
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 and
its role in strengthening democracy and statebuilding thereof.
He said that the lack of civic education have resulted in democratic
deficit in our politics. He reminded intellectual traditions
of our society that always used to respect rishis (sheers),
gurus (teachers), and parents with right balance between duties
and rights. People used to learn both moral and civic education
from this tradition. But with the decline in all these traditions
and rise of the education which is completely Western-oriented
have brought number of challenges in our society. He also 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. 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 pointed out that Nepal is among one of the oldest state
in the world with its rich cultural heritage, 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
Three papers were presented 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.
Gajendra Khadka, said that he doesn't have any information
where CA election has been held more than one time and suggested
that we should go for the election to the parliament. He also
suggested that federal states should be crafted on the basis
if current zones (the current 14 administrative units should
be transformed into federal units).
Bharat Raj Khatri said that the debate on the CA election
is stuck with the fact that under whose leadership CA's election
should be held. He suggested that civil society should take
the lead role to end the current political impasse and also
head the government. If the current situation continues, the
artificial politics would prevail in the days ahead. He also
asked what is the natural law system ?
Birendra Dahal asked how can we categorize Nepali political
leaders? Can we call them 'statesman'?
Pramila Sapkota, Teacher, asked how can we guarantee
property rights to the women?
Upendra Pokhrel said that the constitution of 2047 (1990)
was more inclusive and democratic in the sense that it didn't
have any discriminatory provisions such as 'reservations'. The
current interim constitution with the provision of reservation
could be seen as exclusionary in nature as it protects certain
groups at the cost of others.
Jantari Tamang raised some local issues which involved
corruption committed by the people from the department of Land
Birbal Thapa, Teacher, suggested that we need to clean
up political mess at the highest-level to purify our politics
and our political leaders should be given these types of political/civic
education classes. It appears that our leaders pretend not to
know all these things. He also suggested that our democracy
should make an endeavour to bridge the gaps between have's and
have-nots. Democracy is not extractive system. He also raised
number of issues related to prior-use rights, system of governance
and federalism. He argued that Nepal needs to have directly
elected President and Prime Minister. With regard to the prior-use
rights, he said that social groups other than Brahmin and Chhetris
should be provided to remain at the helm of power for two consecutive
terms. While naming the federal units, Thapa argued that every
attempt has to be made to protect individual identity and federal
states should be named on different basis such as geography,
Bharat Dahal expressed his suspicions over the derailed
constitutional process in the country and enquired whether India
is behind this?
Upendra Pokhrel, Teacher, enquired how we can minimize
the influence of foreigners in policy formulation. He suggested
that we need to develop a framework to regulate foreign aid
and it has to be explicitly mentioned in the upcoming constitution.
He also thanked for teaching both about rights and duties as
most of the NGOs come up only with their rights agendas. He
also enquired about the provisions related to right to information
He expressed serious concern (name withheld) about the role
played by few individuals who claim civil society leaders in
Nepal. Organisations rub by them (name withheld) are destroying
relationship with our friendly countries as well putting our
political problem in a tightrope.
Bhola Prasad Kaderia, Teacher, suggested that we should
move towards democratic socialism. He also enquired whether
political revolution has come to an end in Nepal or not ? The
political revolutions so far have only floated the political
agendas but have not worked as how these agendas could be materialized
in a real sense of the term. That said we have not had any endeavour
for economic revolution which would alone have provided a lot
of respite to the people. He said that constitution is only
means not an end in itself. Modern state has to be responsible
towards its citizens and the government should not be merely
controlled by the political parties. Government at the helm
of power should work for all.
On the issues of federalism, secularism, and monarchy people
should have right to decide and for that matter referendum should
be held argued Kadaria.
Keshab Thapa, Teacher, while naming the federal states
we should be careful in protecting multiple identities of the
people as well as the region. In that sense the upcoming federal
states should reflect the identities of all the people living
in that region.
Pramila Sapkota asked about reservation for women in
the upcoming constitution.
Speaking from the Chair Shree Pawan Raj Poudel said
that every effort has to be made to strengthen democratic system
in the country. Similarly, we should make every effort to protect
multiple identities of the people while crafting federal states.
He also thanked the organisers for organizing such an excellent
programme where people from the peripheral areas have come to
know about many issues that beset Nepali politics. He also committed
that we will revisit our syllabus in the college/schools and
try to introduce the components of civic education from our
own level. He said that ideas expressed in the seminar are excellent
and easy to understand. We will work as a pressure group in
the region to implement these values in our society.
Two-days programme was chaired by Shree Pawan Raj Poudyal,
Principle of Tamakoshi Janjagriti Higher Secondary School. Local
political leaders, citizens, civil servant working in the area
and schools teachers/lectures and students studying at the degree
level in the surrounding areas benefited from the programme.
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.