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Civic Education through Multipliers of Knowledge

Organised by Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS)

28 November (Bhotechaur, Sindhupalchowk)


Democracy remains weak as long as disparity continues

Participants here literally expressed apprehension about the growing tendency of undermining social values and ethics among youths. Such tendency in the long-run could jeopardize the sovereignty of the country, they said.

The anomalies that the society has been encountering after the reinstatement of democracy in 1990 are mainly due to gradual degeneration of social values and failure of political leadership thereafter. On top of that inability of the state in addressing the burgeoning aspirations of people can also be blamed for disorder, discontent and derailment of politics.

Our education system has become more 'fragmented' as a result of which it has failed to deliver social needs, said sociologists while sharing their views with enthusiast local people in this tiny, green village.

Divulging on the issues at an interaction programme on 'Civic Education to Youths', they said that dearth of civic sense among people ultimately drags a society towards destabilization.

Presenting a working paper, sociologist Shiv Raj Dahal said that civic education largely contributes to uphold social values. He said that anomalies and frustrations that have ravaged our younger generation are mainly due to harrowing fall of our social values. If this continues, we cannot imagine what our future would be like, he said.

Now everybody seems to have realized the essence of civic education to deliver value-based education to the new generation. Countries such as India, China and other Asian countries have now made civic education as part of their school/college curricula. Hence, we should not delay in laying focus on the education system that is based on social values. We should lay our priority to educate our people- specially youths as what their role should be in the society. The political instability that has arisen today is mainly due to lack of mutual understanding, said Dahal adding 'co-existence, or social harmony is essential for broad-based development which is possible through civic education. 'Learning civic education alone is not sufficient, everybody has to put it into practice in day-to-day life, said Dahal.

Had people were conscious about ethics, crimes and social anomalies would not have happened. People would be guided by ethics and the society would move towards progress, he said. But today the entire society is fragmented, divided and splintered due to continuous erosion of civic sense, he said and civic sense is the reflection of material and spiritual development.

Speaking at the inaugural session of a day-long programme, Executive Director of Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) Prof. Ananda Prasad Shrestha expressed his firm belief that civic sense among people largely contribute to the democratization process. Hence, our youths should have greater sense of social values and ethics. The interaction programme, Shrestha said adding that would at least help in gathering opinions from the people living in different parts of the country. Moreover, youths who are the torch-bearers, should be well-aware about civic education. He further said that informed youths should take the lead. If youths become uninformed, consolidation of democracy is not possible, said Prof. Shrestha adding politics handled by hooligans, uneducated and uninformed people does not deliver social justice.

Head of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Dev Raj Dahal explained how the FES came into being and works for peace, liberty, social justice and freedom through its offices in 125 countries. He further said that civic education makes people aware about social values, sustainable development, co-existence and mutual understanding. Today we are becoming educated, but our knowledge has become more specialized or segmented. We are losing our wisdom no matter what level of education we achieve. Our educated people are often criticized for being unwise because of their self-centric behavior. Learning should change the behavior, if an individual fails to change behavior through learning, that sort of education does not serve the interest of the society.

Hence, our emphasis should be on widening our knowledge based on wisdom. Civic education in this context, largely helps in building wisdom of an intellect, he said.

Referring to the Hindu philosophy, he said our society is based on knowledge, hence Buddha has suggested to enlighten ourselves (Apa Dipo Vaba). It's great lesson that we should learn to enlighten ourselves. Awareness is not possible without developing inner vision, said Dahal adding that civic education helps in metamorphosing people into citizen.

Civic education is praxis - it constitutes a relation of politics to people's life and supports and equality and brotherhood as opposed o petty infantilism and arrogant juvenility. It teaches that leaders are neither divine nor superior to citizens, he said.

Critical debates civil rights and duties can be expected to contribute to strengthening the bedrock of citizens' attachment with the state, polity and public institutions and build a social and national consensus for policy coherence on the basis of the changing popular mandate, he said.

Prof. Gunanidhi Sharma dwelling upon the economic issues emphasized the need for economic empowerment. Today's youths should be cautious as how the national resources have been sneaked by a handful of people. If youths remain unaware about politics, there will be a dominance of regressive forces, he said.

Prof. Sharma further said that civic education would at least generate awareness about the rights and responsibilities of people.

Prof. Ram Kumar Dahal, outlining the essence of civic education said that it would generate awareness among budding youths that 'it is the politics that leads the society towards a certain direction'. Hence, politics should not go into wrong hands. It is the civic education that teaches us to take our politics towards right direction.

From the chair, Padam Bahadur Karki, principal of the Sri Saraswoti Higher Secondary School at Bhotechaur spoke about the significance of civic education to boost morale of youths. He also underlined the need of value based education system and said that knowledge should be broad-based and linked to the society.

Over 125 people including 45 female participants from different walks of life actively took part in the discussion programme.

FLOOR DISCUSSION

At the end of the interaction programme, participants raised questions on different issues on the working paper.

Kumar Prasad Lamichhane, Principal of Sri Sinhdu Higher Secondary School underlined the need for culture/ethos saying that education alone does not contribute to wisdom. Learning should change the behavior. If any learning fails to change behavior of an individual, that cannot be deemed learning, he said. He also asked resource persons to elucidate the modus operandi of practicing civic education.

Laxmi Dahal, a social activist questioned how civic education alone motivates youths for social cause. Definitely civic education does a lot, but there are other factors to keep our youths in right track. Civic education should be backed by opportunities.

Padma Nath Adhikary, a school teacher said most of youths today are not aware what they are going to be after achieving certain academic degree. Now days, they do not see the future in their soil. In this context, how could civic education be a panacea?


Hari Dahal, teacher at local school, Bhotechaur- said civic education alone does not uplift youths, positive change in behavioral aspects of youths should be given priority.


Kalpana Karki, Social worker, urged the organizer to press government to formulate youth friendly policy. Besides, youths should be involved in productive activities.

Responding to queries, FES head Dev Raj Dahal said civic education is important because it generates awareness about the values of coexistence and mutual understanding in the society.

Democracy cannot function steadily without youths having plethora of moral values. Hence, concerned efforts must to boost morale among youths. Dearth if confidence and morale degenerate democracy, he said.

Shiv Raj Dahal underlined the need for promoting values in the society. There has been a growing concern about civic education in India, China and other Asian countries, so we should lay our priority to educate our people- specially youths as what their role should be in the society. Consolidation of democracy is not possible without informed youths; hence it is our efforts to draw the attention of youth from different parts of the country.

He informed that the programme would be held in different parts of the country and the views of the local people would be collected and prepared for policy formulation and school/college curriculum.

NEFAS has been organizing civic education programme for the last 12-13 years in different parts of the country. Its publications have been widely used in school and college curriculum.

 
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