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Civic Education Campaign for Social Transformation

Organized by Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS)

10 December 2014 (SAF - Falcha, Babarmahal, Kathmandu)


Build social harmony for consolidation of democracy: Experts

Social scientists, educationists and policy makers expressed their grave concern over dwindling confidence of Nepalese youths in the recent years. They are losing their hopes about their livelihoods and becoming frustrated, experts remarked.

In this context an ideal social transformation and consolidation of democracy are not possible as long as people in the society remain unaware about their responsibility towards others, but that sense of responsibility sprout only when they regard social values, said social scientists, educationists and experts from different fields. Dwelling upon the issue of civic education, they put forth their views that democracy (Loktantra) could be strengthened with concerted efforts of people. It is the civic education that generates social harmony among people.

Speaking at a national seminar on 'Civic Education and Democracy Building in Nepal' they said lack of civility among people has awfully dragged democracy towards dungeon. However, there is a light at the end of tunnel, we can do something to enrich our society by imparting knowledge with wisdom, they remarked.

Sharing his views educationist and former vice chancellor of Kathmandu University Dr. Suresh Raj Sharma also underlined the need for promoting value - based education so that learning can contribute to the society. However, there are multiple factors that largely affect mindset of people. Even though, material progress seems to have left individual feelings far behind in this age of cut-throat competition, civic education has become more essential. In this context, civic education plays a vital role in generating awareness among youths. 'Economic compulsion' has largely dominated behavior of individuals, but civic education helps develop resiliency against anomalies, said Dr. Sharma adding that our education should be made value based and practical.
Our education system has some flaws that need to be corrected, he said adding 'concerted efforts a must to battle ignorance.'

Chairman of the High Level Administrative Reform Commission Kashi Raj Dahal said civic education plays a vital role in making an obedient society. However, timely changes in curricula are a must to yield better outcome, he added.

Sharing his experience of his recent visit to far-western region in the country, Dahal said awareness should be generated among people irrespective of their caste or group. Even animals follow the rules of nature. Elucidating his experience that he saw in the Shukla Phanta Wildlife conservation area, he said even an elephant despite losing an eye does everything as per the order of his master. If the animals follow the rule of the nature, why cannot the human being do so? Hence, we have to learn from animals and nature.

Prof. Ananda P Shrestha, Executive Chairman of the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) while highlighting the objective of programme said that the seminar was organised with the view of gathering ideas of stakeholders in the capital. He also informed that the NEFAS has been organizing seminars on civic education for the last 12-13 years in different parts of the country. It is our continuous effort to generate awareness about civility which ultimately contribute to strengthening democracy, he said adding "awareness generation programme would at least do something for the uplift of the society. The programme we take outside the Kathmandu valley would have a domino impact on youths.

Head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Dev Raj Dahal said that the civic education aims at achieving true consciousness and therefore cannot be entirely value free. It helps to transform people into active citizens with the ability to exercise equal rights and duties. He further said that the art of civic education must be utilized to communicate the common heritage with a larger spectrum of people. Dahal touched upon wide-range of issues relating to democracy, social values and civic education. It is civic disposition that strengthens democracy and social harmony. Hence, civility should not be taken as a different field of study, rather it should be dealt in totality, he added.

Former vice chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Prof Gunanidhi Sharma while chairing the second session of the programme said that economic issues should be taken into account to strengthen democracy. Civic education in this regard plays a vital role in generating awareness about the economic rights of individuals. Drawing a wide spectrum of Nepalese economy, he said participation of youths is a must to propel economic growth. Youths who are well aware about their responsibility, can firmly distinguish economic rights of individuals and states. He sharply criticized the government policy of sending youths abroad for employment. It is the responsibility of the state to create economic opportunity, no nation can make headway by sending their productive mass for employment. The state should generate economic opportunity and provide security.

Another speaker Prof. Ram Kumar Dahal while presenting his working paper said that the domino effect of civic education develops democratic culture and ultimately makes a society more affluent. It helps maintain social harmony and coherence among people, hence people particularly youths should know well about civility.

Presenting his working paper on 'Civic Education and Democracy Building in Nepal' Prof. Ananda P Shrestha expressed hope that civic education campaign would generate awareness and ultimately contribute to consolidation of democracy with social justice, equality and all round development. Anomalies have wrecked the society in the recent years and it has become more intense after 1990 owing to proliferation of partisan interests, he said.

At the end of the both sessions, participants actively took part in the floor discussion.

Over 90 people from different organizations took part in the seminar. The one day national seminar was organised by the NEFAS in cooperation with FES.

FLOOR DISCUSSION

FIRST SESSION

Chairman- Dr. Suresh Raj Sharma

Working Paper Presentator- Prof. Dr. Ram Kumar Dahal

Following the presentation, participants from various organizations raised questions as well put forth their views on the issue.

Laxmi Keshari Manandhar, Padma Kanya College while commenting Ram Kumar Dahal's paper said that it failed to address the gender issues in civic education. In a society like ours, gender issues play a vital role to make civic education more comprehensive and broad-based.

Ram Karki, a lecturer underlined the need to link the civic education with production, distribution and utilization of resources. There should be a bottom up approach to make civic education more effective and result oriented.

Indra Ghimire- a lecturer of sociologist was of the view that civic education should be linked with economic empowerment.

Assistant Professor of Economics Dr. Bishnu Sharma said that there are mainly three factors such as economic well-being, physical well-being and emotional well-being cannot be separated from civic education.

Bharat Pokharel, professor of Economics at TU said that teachers, parents and leading figures in other communities should be role model for children. Each and every individual is responsible to make budding generation more civic and disciplined.

Krishna Acharya underlined the need to establish economic relations with civic education. Its absurd to expect civility in deprivation. Civic awareness programme is not enough to maintain civility.

Drona Lamichhane, a university student said that the civic education itself is vague to understand for many people in the society.

Nirdesh Shrestha was of the view that civic education should be modified in the present context.

Kabita Shrestha spoke about the need for institutionalizing civic education.

Another participant Madhav Bhusal a TU student also stresses on the massive campaign on civic education.

In response to the concern raised by the participants, working paper presentator, Prof. Dahal said that healthy political atmosphere is not possible without civility and vice versa. They are inter-related. On top of that economic aspects should also be properly dealt. There are problems in every aspect of life, which have to be dealt with adequate sense and sensibility.

Dev Raj Dahal while responding to the queries underlined the need for addressing knowledge gap. Civic education helps prevent on being dogmatist. It helps understand the values and beliefs in the society.

From the chair, Dr. Suresh Raj Sharma underlined the need of social-security. When there is a social security, citizens do not have run after livelihood problems. Hence, civic education should go along with paving the avenues for economic opportunities. He also expressed worry about the decay in the political culture.

SECOND SESSSION

Chairman - Prof. Dr. Gunanidhi Sharma

Working Paper Presentator- Prof. Ananda P Shrestha

Laxmi Keshari Manandhar - said that the goal of civic education remains half achieved as long as the status of women folks in the society remains unaddressed. Women understand the problems of women, so the role of women in civic education should be at the forefront. Moreover, women are ahead in display of civic skills and civic disposition.

Giriraj Dhakal of Prithivi Narayan Campus Pokhara was of the view that civic education makes youths creative and constructive. Youths should be made aware about their responsibility and they should be well aware about the rights of others.

Lalan Chaudhary, an expert of civic education underlines the need for purification. Civic education should be able to purify citizens so that they behave like human being.

Ramesh Prasah Joshi said that people from all ages should be well-aware about civility, hence civic education address all types of people irrespective of their age, gender and caste. The root cause of criminalization of politics is dearth of civility, hence our main focus should be on building a society which is free of undue greed and corruption.

Bindu Adhikary, a social activist also spoke about giving due emphasis to value education. We should take civic education in broader sense along with social development.
Working paper presentator Shrestha said that value degeneration has been a problem in the Nepalese society; hence we are focusing on generating awareness from the school level education.

He said that NEFAS with unflinching efforts would continue its civic education programme in different parts of the country. The experience, ideas we have gathered so far would be valuable in policy formulation.

 
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