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Civic Education through Multipliers of Knowledge

Organised by Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS)

22 November (Dapcha, Kavre)

Civic Education must for consolidation of democracy

At a time when the country's politicians are 'seemingly busy' in garnering consensus on thorny issues of the new constitution, some sociologists, economists and local people today extensively discussed the significance of good governance so that everybody can be a part of local development.

Good governance is possible only when emerging youths actively take part in politics which is based on values and democratic principles. Youths should be role-model, which is possible through awareness generation about civility. Having realized the essence of civic education, Asian countries including India and China have laid emphasis on civic education in their school and college level education.

Now it's high time to make our budding youths to make them aware about civic sense, said participants at an interaction programme. School teachers, representatives of different political parties, and social activists here expressed their concern over dwindling state of civic sense among the youths and underlined a dire need of awareness generation across the nation. Today's youths do not see their future in their own soil and presume politics as 'dirty game'. In such a situation how can one expect development? They asked.

Presenting a working paper on "Civic Education to Youths" sociologist Shiv Raj Dahal explained why civic education was important from the point of view of sustainable development. He further explained civic education is the education that teaches us what is right or what is wrong based on the interest of greater number of people. It is based on the philosophy of veda - great Hindu epic based on moral values and essence of life.

It teaches us how co-existence can be maintained in the society, he said adding that failure to maintain balance ultimately leads to catastrophes and unexpected disaster. Had the society gone as per the civic values and people would have realized co-existence and we would not have encountered any untoward events in the history. Developed nations have now realized how today's youths should be nurtured and thus massively focused on civic education, he said.

At an interaction programme on "Civic Education to Youths", organised by the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies (NEFAS) in association with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung(FES), he urged the local people to voice their concern so as to bolster democratic exercise at local level. However, youths' role is vital in generating awareness. The domino effect of such program helps uplift the entire society, country at large.

Unless youths become aware of their responsibilities, the society cannot make progress. Hence, civic education for today's youths is a must to make them a part of society and democratization process in the country, he said.

Speaking at the programme former vice chairman of the National Planning Commission Prof. Gunanidhi Sharma pointed out the need for economic empowerment for which the state should have the confidence of addressing the problem of general people irrespective of any ideology or groups. It is civic education that teaches people about their rights and responsibilities towards resources.

Youths in this regard should be well aware about their economic rights. All democratic movements become successful only when youths take the lead. In this connection, youths should play an active role in economic empowerment, said Prof. Sharma. If youths become deviated from politics, they would be less aware about their economic rights and anomalies could strangle the entire socio-economic paraphernalia, said Prof Sharma.

Prof. Sharma also raised the question on the recently concluded power development agreement with India. Passing a sarcastic note on Finance Minister Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat's recent statement he said the government was hiding the facts of economic indicators.

Expressing concern over the country's 'tardy democratization process', Dev Raj Dahal, chief of the FES said that civic education largely helps people to realize their responsibilities. Especially youths who are the future of the society should play an active role in development of the society. It is impossible for a society to make progress without active and disciplined youths. He further said "civic education aims at familiarizing people, both male and female, about the rule of governance their rights, duties, practices and basic principles of democracy.

Civic education is a praxis- use of critical knowledge to shape reasonable attitude and change the world for better freedom, equality, dignity and peace, he said adding this programme would help generate awareness about civic education.

Prof. Ram Kumar Dahal pointed out the need for generating awareness about civic education and the rights of youths in the society. Unless, our youths remain unaware of their responsibilities, a society cannot move towards right direction, he said.

Executive Director of the NEFAS Prof. Ananda Prasad Shrestha spoke about the objectives of the interaction programme. This is our endeavor to gather your views at local level from different parts of the country. Your opinion would help play an important role in policy formulation, said Shrestha.

The programme was chaired by Govind Bahadur Bhujel, chief of the Dapcha Krishna College. Bhujel said such programme would largely help generate awareness among the local people. He urged the organizers to hold such programme in regular basis. Over 70 people from different walks of life were participating in the interaction programme.

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.


Following the interaction programme, participants raised questions on different issues on the working paper-

Mahesh Adhikary - teacher at Secondary School - said that the views expressed in the working paper were not clear about the People's Movement that took place in 1996. It seems that the paper is bit lopsided from the point of view of those who are deprived and discriminated. You should be able to include the voice of all.

Nava Raj Adhikary - a social worker and vegetable farmer- expressed grudges over the policy of the government. Government has turned a deaf ear to the problems of farmers and local entrepreneurs. There is no such policy to protect local products.

Hari Dahal- teacher at local school- asked Prof. Gunanidhi Sharma to clarify how and Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) with India is harmful to Nepal. Now Nepal should initiate process of attracting more foreign investment.

Hari Prasad Timilsina - Social worker - urged the organizer to press government to formulate youth friendly policy. Unless the youths are deprived of economic opportunity, it's not wise to talk about civic education.

Atmaram Adhikary- political/social activist - The state should formulate special policy to woo youths to politics. Programmes for youths should be devised. Civic education programme is a must, but the programme alone does not help overcome problems.

Gita Adhikary- a college student - Programme should be organized in regular basis and asked when civic education would be envisaged in the curriculum.

Responding to queries, 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.

Prof. Gunanidhi Sharma while responding to queries relating to BIPPA and other national issues said BIPPA with India is more detrimental from the point of view of 1950s treaty. BIPPA should be done with other countries as well. In the regard role of informed youths is vital to guard the vital interest of the nation, he said.

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.

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