Civic Education through Multipliers of Knowledge
Organized by Nepal Foundation for Advanced
19 October 2014 (Bhanu Higher Secondary School,
NEFAS with the assistance from Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
conducted a seminar titled 'Civic Education in present context
of Nepal' on 19th October 2014 at Bhanu Higher Secondary School,
Dandabazar, Dhankuta. The seminar was chaired by Palak Bahadur
Basnet, Chairperson of School Management Committee. Teachers,
Social Worker, Journalist, Advocate, Politician, Youth and local
inhabitants participated in the seminar.
Professor Ananda Prasad Shrestha, Executive Chairman
of NEFAS, spoke about the works carried out by NEFAS in our
society. NEFAS has been proactive in conducting such seminars,
which bring the experts and local people together. These seminars
are significant in gathering people's opinions about the goings-on
in the country. Such programs are regularly conducted in different
parts of the country so that opinions of people from different
socio-economic and geographic backgrounds could be collected.
He further added about the role these opinions could play in
shaping the governing system of the country. First-hand public
opinion garnered through such programs can be utilized during
formulation of plans and policies at the country as well as
local level. He also showered praise on FES for their relentless
support to NEFAS for conduction of such seminars and interaction
programs. It would have been difficult to organize this type
of programs without the support of FES, he commented.
Chandra Dev Bhatta, Program Officer of FES, highlighted
the objectives of such interaction programs. FES has been at
the forefront in conducting social discourse among people from
different walks of life. FES is carrying forward the innovative
ideas of Friedrich Ebert, Germany's first President, who initiated
the system of social dialogue for the advancement of a society.
As we are a democratic nation, collecting people's views and
opinions need to be the norm of the ruling bodies. FES is performing
the duty for the betterment of our society at large, he claimed.
Our culture dates back to ancient times in its origin, Bhatta
said. It is even older than the western culture. Unfortunately,
we are deviating from our culture and adopting western culture,
which is relatively new. This practice is blatant in the young
people, who are being detached from their native culture and
traditions. This can be detrimental to the society, so it is
mandatory to educate these youths about our religion, customs
and culture. We need to make them realize their roots and persuade
them to act accordingly, he added.
Shiv Raj Dahal, young sociologist and program co-ordinator
of NEFAS, presented the seminar paper at the program. His seminar
paper revolved around the current scenario of Nepal's politics,
youths of the country, and the need of civic education in the
present context of Nepal. He spoke about the changes in the
political system of the country with the passage of time. Nepal
has witnessed a number of political turnovers in the past few
decades. Stability in politics is a long held dream by the people,
Dahal condemned the conduct of political parties and said that
they are responsible for political instability in the country.
They are prolonging the declaration of Constitution and not
putting an end to the political transition of the country. Although
democratic and republic system have been established in the
country, political parties are still failing to pay heed to
the need of the people.
They are still busy with their personal matters, fulfilling
their own demands, he stated. A bad political culture is being
established in the country, he remarked. He further censured
the political leaders for not setting an example during this
transition phase of the country. These political leaders, who
should have been close to the people, are in fact more detached
from them. Such type of practice does not do justice to the
core principle of democracy, he pointed out.
Youths of the country have been at the receiving end of uncertainty
owing to the political turmoil, Dahal remarked. A large chunk
of young population is unemployed, and the political parties
at the helm are not doing anything about it. Political parties
exploited youths in their political campaigns during elections,
but did not care for them after the election. Unemployment is
a burgeoning problem in our society, and the political parties
who vowed, before the election, to eradicate unemployment are
turning indifferent to this issue. As a result, these youths
are being disillusioned from the politics of the country. They
are moving to other countries in search of jobs, which is having
a negative impact on the country, he argued.
Civic education is the need of the hour in our country, Dahal
commented. Civic education is the means of educating the people,
predominantly youths, about national as well as cultural values.
Civic education leads to good governance, he mentioned. Dahal
further added that civic sense is lacking in our country, so
it is time to impart civic education to the people.
Without utilizing the enthusiasm and skills of youths, a country
cannot march in the path of progress, argued Prof Dr. Ram Kumar
Dahal. They are indispensable in the development of new, and
possibly better, Nepal. Citing the example of Chinese government
which encourages the youths for education and employment within
the country, Dr. Dahal added that Nepal, on the contrary, encourages
its youth to seek employment opportunities in foreign countries.
This is a disgrace to our country, he pointed out. Youths need
to be provided with practical education, he claimed.
The aversion of youths towards politics has resulted from the
irresponsible behaviors of political parties, Dr. Dahal mentioned.
Political parties fixate only on their vested interests. This
is visible in cases like the nomination of Ambassadors, where
fawning the political leaders, and not your competency, guarantees
the post. Such culture is prevalent in our society, and is increasingly
being flashed out. This type of proceedings sows a seed of hatred
towards politics in the minds of young people. 'Politics is
a dirty game' has been the catch phrase among youths, he remarked.
The time is appropriate for youths to take a lead in the politics,
Nepal's international goodwill has taken a beating because
of our internal politics, he added. Nepal can do much better
in the international sphere if good planning is done and actions
are taken accordingly. That Nepal is the chair of Least Developed
Countries (LDCs) speaks about the role Nepal can play at the
international level. Sadly, Nepal is entangled in its internal
matters and is not been able to free itself from it, he stated.
An all-inclusive democracy is required in the country to resolve
these matters, Dr. Dahal argued.
Economic system is instrumental in the overall performance
of a country, claimed Prof Gunanidhi Sharma, former vice-chairman
of National Planning Commission. Sound economic system consolidates
other sectors of the country as well, thereby uplifting the
whole country. So, Nepal needs to concentrate more on the economic
policies and programs, he argued. Earlier, the state was responsible
for the economic activites in the country. After institutionalization
of democracy, economic system became more liberal, and the involvement
of state on economic matters became nominal. The welfare state,
which was in existence in Nepal before the democracy, gave way
to the liberal system, he added.
Prof Sharma also mentioned about the concept of 'only money
matters', developed by Milton Friedman in 1968. Friedman also
developed market economy approach based on this concept.
These approaches permeated the economy of Nepal after the establishment
of democracy in 1990, he pointed out. In the same vein, 'trickle-down
theory' was also adopted in Nepal in the aftermath of democracy.
This theory elucidated that if the overall economy of the country
is enhanced, then the marginalized and poor people would also
benefit from the enhanced economy.
The economy of Nepal post establishment of democracy was driven
by these approaches, he commented. Nepal could not handle the
inherent shortcomings of these approaches; as a result, the
economic system went astray and has still not found its way,
The concept of globalization also hampered the economy of our
country, he said. National economy became second fiddle to the
global economy, and the policies were framed with the concept
of global village in mind. As a result, decontrol and deregulation
of market were adopted in the country. The role of state was
also downsized. This system invited malpractices such as black
marketing and corruption in the country. Moreover, the privileged
people exploited the economy for their personal sake without
considering the sufferings of less privileged ones. They framed
policies that favored them, thus rendering the system biased,
Desh Bahadur Limbu, a local resident, expressed his
views about the inclusion of 'Nepal Parichaya' in the syllabus.
This subject holds more relevance in the present context, so
it would be better to reinstate the subject, he said. He then
spoke about the secularism of our country. Secularism should
be irrevocably included in the constitution, he remarked. Giving
undue importance to one particular religion does not do justice
to people following other religions; so secularism is a must
in a multi-religious country like ours, he claimed.
Sushil Ghimire, a local resident, spoke about the lack
of better deployment of foreign aid and resources for something
substantial. He lamented that the seminar paper does not mention
about the ways of better utilizing foreign donation, primarily
in rural areas. He also criticized the seminar paper for bringing
out only the problems and negative aspects of the country. Focusing
excessively on the negative matters and speaking only about
them will frustrate the youths even more. Solutions to the problems
of youths should have been included in the paper, he argued.
Yubraj Rai, a local resident, underlined the importance
of minority communities of a country. An all-inclusive system
needs to be developed, and the people from minority communities
should not be ignored, he said. He asked Chandra Dev Bhatta
about his take on the culture, religion and language of minority
Chandra Dev Bhatta answered that the culture and religion
are the pillars of a country. A country needs to embrace all
the culture of its people, minority included. Language and culture
are the foundations of a country, he remarked.
MB Rai, a local resident, shed light on the education
system of the country. There is no mention of education system
of the country in the paper, he said. Drawing attention towards
the dearth of vocational education in the country, he said that
education needs to make a person self-reliant and self-employed.
Education should not be about accumulating degrees and certificates,
Krishna B Blom, a former teacher, inquired Prof Gunanidhi
Sharma about his works during his stint as a vice-chairman at
National Planning Commission.
Prof Gunanidhi Sharma answered that he intended to transform
the Planning process during his stay, however brief, at National
Planning Commission. He worked towards establishing public-centric
and sound planning process in the country, he mentioned.
Rudra Basnet, a local farmer, asked about the do's and
do not's during the formation of states. He further inquired
about benefits and caveats associated with Federalism.
Gunanidhi Sharma answered that the essence of Federalism
is equal distribution of opportunities to people irrespective
of caste, gender, religion, geographic and socio-economic backgrounds.
Federalism should lessen the gulf between communities and bring
them together. The current political development surrounding
federalism issue, however, is more about polarizing communities
and widening the chasm between them. This is against the objective
of Federalism. People-oriented Federalism with equal rights
and duties to people from all backgrounds need to be established
in the country, and we all have to work towards it, Prof Sharma
From the Chair, Palak Bahadur Basnet gave the closing
speech at the seminar. He showered praise on the organizing
body for taking initiatives for such interaction programs. Such
discourse and debate are the need of the hour, as the country
is going through a transition. He also spoke about the tourism
of Dandabazar and hoped that NEFAS and FES would show willingness
towards this neglected topic.