Civic Education through Multipliers of Knowledge
Organized by Nepal Foundation for Advanced
20 October 2014 (Ramsita
Higher Secondary School, Bhimpur, Sunsari)
NEFAS conducted a seminar and interaction program on 'Civic Education
in the present context of Nepal' on 20th October 2014 at Ramsita
Higher Secondary School, Bhimpur, Sunsari. NEFAS was assisted
by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) for conducting the program.
The program was chaired by Jagat Bahadur Bhattarai, Chairperson,
School Management Committee. Social worker, entrepreneur, Teachers,
Politicians and local people participated in the seminar and interacted
with the experts from NEFAS and FES.
Professor Ananda Prasad Shrestha, Executive Chairman
of NEFAS, welcomed the participants to the program and inaugurated
the program with brief introduction of NEFAS and its works.
NEFAS has been conducting such programs in different parts of
the country so that first-hand opinions of people could be gathered.
This information can be fed to the policy makers and this could
result in formulation of policies and plans catering to the
need of people, he said. He also praised the tireless support
provided by FES. FES has been the guiding factor for NEFAS and
for successful conduction of such programs, he remarked. As
Nepal is a democratic country, views and expectations of people
are paramount for taking the country forward. NEFAS is justifying
the democratic system of the country by garnering their ideas,
queries and beliefs, he mentioned.
Chandra Dev Bhatta, Program Officer of FES, gave the
introduction of FES and spoke about the underlying objectives
of FES and such programs. Friedrich Ebert, Germany's first president,
commenced the method of discourse among people to gather their
opinions and using those opinions to advance the society and
country, he mentioned. FES runs on the same principle of social
discourse and debate and strives to assimilate the expectations
and views of the people. These opinions can be more than useful
during policy-level decision making. FES also endeavors to bring
the policy makers and the general people together during such
programs in order to establish a direct communication between
them, he claimed. Bhatta further added that policy-makers and
public alike reap benefits from such programs.
Shiv Raj Dahal, young sociologist and program coordinator
of NEFAS, presented the seminar paper at the program. His paper
dealt with the ongoing political instability and the plight
of youths in the country. Nepal has undergone a myriad of changes
in the last few decades, more so in the political set up of
the country, he pointed out. Yet, the country is still languishing
and has not undergone rapid socio-economic progress. All those
changes have not borne fruit so far, he remarked.
Political parties of Nepal are responsible for leading the
country down the wrong road, Dahal mentioned. These political
parties stood in solidarity for overthrowing the monarchial
system of government, but has since diverged and often confronted
each other. They have not reached a consensus on crucial matters
of new constitution, and have been lengthening the constitution
drafting process, he remarked. They have been driven by their
desire to remain in power and fulfill their petty needs, he
Young Sociologist Dahal then spoke about the youths of the
country. Youths have been pivotal in People's Revolution of
1990 as well as of 2006. A few of them even lost their lives
for ushering in Democracy and Republic in the country. They
were driven solely by the desire to uplift the country and take
it into the path of development. But, their dreams have not
yet been realized.
Worse, these youths have been sidelined from the mainstream
economic and political system. Their needs and expectations
are largely unattended to, he pointed out. He condemned the
political parties for not paying heed to the demands of youths.
These political parties exploit youths in their political campaigns
for success in elections. Their success in election rides on
the youths, so they lure youths into their campaigns with promises
for their better future. These promises vanish into thin air
after the culmination of elections, he asserted. Youths have
been misled by political parties. He minced no words in his
criticism of political parties for misappropriating skill and
enthusiasm of the youths for their selfish needs.
Youths are turning indifferent to politics, Dahal stated. They
are migrating, temporarily or permanently, to foreign countries
in order to secure their future. Although the country benefits
from the remittance from these people, the money is inconsequential
compared to what could have been done in the country had they
stayed and worked here. There is a serious problem of brain
drain in the country, he remarked. This unfortunate situation
has befallen the country because of irresponsibility of political
parties, he argued.
Civic education instills in people the attachment to one's
country and countrymen, Dahal pointed out. It is required in
the present context of Nepal, he claimed. Dahal further highlighted
the significance of civic education for building of a nation.
Civic education encourages the people to do something for the
country and be responsible citizens, Dahal remarked.
The politics of Nepal has had a roller coaster ride, argued
Prof Dr. Ram Kumar Dahal. Sweeping political changes have been
the norm of Nepal's politics. Rana regime, Panchayat system,
Democracy and Republic: Nepal's politics has come a long way
in the last few decades. Despite such changes, the essence of
politics and governance has not been fulfilled. Although the
power has gone to the hands of public, the political leaders
are still ignoring the public and their needs. Political leaders
and public are still not connected, and there is a considerable
gulf between them, he argued. The political culture in Nepal
is not a healthy one, and this has been responsible for the
sluggish, if any, growth of the country, Dr. Dahal mentioned.
The potential of Nepal in the international arena has still
not been utilized, he said. Nepal is the chair of Least Developed
Countries (LDCs), and it has been bestowed with great responsibility
at the international level. But the country has not left its
mark. On the contrary, Nepal's goodwill has taken a beating
at the international level owing to the appointment of incompetent
and ineligible people. The nomination of people to responsible
positions in Nepal is not merit-based; instead, there is political
involvement in the selection process. Politics has encroached
upon the bureaucracy of the country, he remarked. Civic education
is a must in the current context to dispense with the bad culture
of politics, corruption and irresponsibility, he commented.
The economic sector of a country should not be overlooked,
argued Prof Gunanidhi Sharma, former vice-chairman, National
Planning Commission. Economy of a country dictates the fate
of the country, he said. We need to concentrate more on framing
and implementing sound economic policies and programs. By consolidating
the economic sector, we can drive the overall country in the
path of progress, Prof Sharma claimed.
The economic system of country prior to 1990 was controlled
by the government. Government was responsible for ensuring a
stable economy in the country. After the institutionalization
of democracy in 1990, the grip of state on economic matters
loosened. The economic market became liberal and competitive.
People and their economic activities determined the economy
of the country post-1990. Although this empowered the people,
this empowerment came with a heavy price of economic malpractices.
Corruption and black marketing pervaded the economy of the country,
Prof Sharma pointed out. The economically privileged people
manipulated the economy for their benefits; as a result, the
chasm between rich and poor, privileged and underprivileged,
and socially forward and backward widened. As the country's
influence over the economy was weakened, it could not do anything
to make amends. The economy thus went downhill and has not recovered
till date. This is largely because of our unpreparedness while
liberalizing the economy, Prof Sharma mentioned.
Globalization has also played its part for ruining the economy
of Nepal, he remarked. The concept of world as a global village
undermined the economic programs targeted at national economy.
National economy gave way to the global economy, which affected
economy of countries such as Nepal, he stated. He further commented
on the growing tendency of adopting western culture and principles.
Our own social mores and economic principles are better, but
we are turning averse to them. Ayurveda, Yoga and Chanakya ideology,
among others are our creations which have passed the time test.
But we have long forgotten their inherent benefits, and are
gravitating towards the western principles. Our life style has
increasingly been westernized, he asserted. This practice will
not serve us well in the long run, Prof Sharma remarked.
Dukha Ram Chaudhary, a teacher, opined that moral education
is also required in conjunction with civic education. We need
to inculcate moral values in youths, so an education having
civic and ethic values is the need of the time, he remarked.
Upendra Pashwan, a local inhabitant, recommended that
this civic education be imparted to the political leaders and
policy makers. They are the ones who are in need of civic education,
as they are being detached from the needs of the country and
its citizens, he pointed out.
Narad Luitel, a teacher, spoke about the practice in
our society of considering the rich and privileged ones as cultured.
Rich determine the do's and do not's, moral values, and etiquettes
in a society, he asserted. This is not a good tradition, and
this needs to be changed, he remarked. Shedding light on the
agriculture and private sector, he said that reforms are required
to bolster agriculture in the country.
Surya Narayan Mehta, a local inhabitant, spoke about
the caveats of civic education. After the introduction of formal
education, people started the practice of nefarious activities.
As the level of knowledge and skill of people enhanced, they
started indulging in social malpractices, he opined. He feared
that the incorporation of civic education in the education system
could result in more haphazardness and recklessness in the society.
The more the people become well-versed with social, ethical
and civic values, the more they transgress them, he argued.
Mahesh Prasad Raya, a local social worker, shed light
on the underbelly of criminal-run politics of our country. The
politics revolves around the rich and powerful, he remarked.
He also suggested that such programs be conducted regularly,
as a one-off program is unlikely to make any difference to the
status quo. He expressed his views about the nature of civic
education to be imparted to the people. Civic education should
be in the form easily graspable by the people, he claimed.
From the chair, Jagat Bahadur Bhattarai expressed his
gratitude to NEFAS and FES for conducting the program at Bhimpur.
The program brought together experts on politics, economy, and
policy making and local people. He added that the local people
benefitted immensely from the program. The program has been
a success, he concluded.